Firstly, let’s go with the obvious one shall we? Assuming Danny sticks to the 4-2-3-1 formation he trialled last season, this is the first team I suspect we’ll play.
I call it a 4-2-3-1, it could have been 4-1-1-3-1, 4-5-1 or any assortment of other options. It’s a flat back four, a couple of central midfielders looking to support the attack and one more advanced sitting behind the main striker. On the flanks, we look to get width as well as offer willing runners in the channels if the opportunity arises.
It’s tried and tested with a couple of faults. The defence can’t be questioned too much, our defensive record was excellent until the last game of the season and I can’t see any major changes to that. If Jason Shackell is as fit and able as he was last season, I can see Cian Bolger becoming something of a James Wilson figure, although he’ll play the first three games due to Shackell’s suspension. We haven’t seen enough of Cian to make a proper assessment of him yet, but he’ll get a chance now.
There is a definite need for cover in the wide defensive areas. If we sign Ben Coker then that covers the left back role, but at right back we have to find a viable alternative to Neal Eardley. Any injury or suspension puts our back four into an unbalanced state right now and we can’t afford that when wingers like Aiden McGeady and Jamal Lowe prowl the division.
If we were playing two midfielders I suspect a combination of Michael O’Connor, Joe Morrell, Tom Pett and Ellis Chapman would get the nod. Freck is injured right now so isn’t in the equation and, like last pre-season, Ellis has had plenty of game time. That said, Bristol City have not loaned us Joe Morrell to sit on the bench. If he does play, we need a more defence-minded player alongside him, which I believe would be O’Connor. Bear in mind, Michael O’Connor didn’t play against Reading last weekend and in that instance, I suspect Ellis would get the nod.
The right hand side of the attack is fairly settled, Harry has little competition at the moment and is seemingly a good bet to start. Jorge Grant can challenge for both the left wing role and the central attacking role, but will he dislodge either Bruno Andrade or Jack Payne? There’s no way Jack Payne has come here to sit on the bench, so I’ve got him playing the McCartan role of last season. I can’t see Bruno being dropped either, so in the current formation, Grant might have to stake a claim from the bench.
Up front, it’s Big John all the way. Love him or loathe him (although why you’d loathe him I’ve no idea) he is the perfect number nine and can help those three bag goals as well as bag plenty of his own.
Now, how do we get our tricky attacking players in the side en masse?
Next Page – A little more adventurous…