22-year-old utility player Tayo Edun was one of the surprise signings of the January transfer window, having spent time on loan in the Championship.
He certainly looked to fit the mould of young player who we would look to develop – a former England youth international, capped up to Under 20 level having won the Euro 2017 championship as an Under 19. He had appeared seven times for Fulham and seven further times for Ipswich, never having played lower than the Championship. He was full of promise and potential.
His Imps career got off to a shaky start, despite a strong debut in the 1-0 win against Blackpool. he debuted as a central midfielder, a role I really liked him in, but shifted to left-back against Accrington and MK Dons. His season ended prematurely, sent off against Gillingham on February 22nd and serving his one-match ban as we beat Burton.
Once the lads got going this season, Tayo looked to be left on the sidelines. He didn’t appear at all in the league in September, but he did bag against Liverpool and, just as he had the season before, made his first league appearance of the season against Blackpool. He came on as a second-half sub in a game we ended up winning 3-2 and, since then, he’s forced his way into the first-team reckoning.
The has almost exclusively been as a left-back though, not the position I like him best in. That said, I think he’s been quality over the last two matches, holding the ball better, using it better and maybe, settling in. Remember, he has still only started 13 league games for the Imps, 17 in his career, and is still learning the senior game.
With that in mind, I thought I’d justify my subscription to Wyscout to see if my thoughts on Tayo were correct. I’m taking his outing against Wigan and looking for signs of development. I’ll compare his performance to that of Bristol Rovers, where he also played left-back and appeared for the whole game.
In the left-back role, Tayo has involvement at both ends of the pitch. It is a demanding role, especially in the modern game. No longer does a winger do all the hard work, the full-back is as much a part of the attack as those ahead of him. That means neat ball control and distribution. It had been said, by some, that some of Tayo’s passes were errant during his first few games in the league. Were they? In the game against Bristol Rovers, his passing stats were 61 attempted, 43 completed, with 70% accuracy. Against Wigan, he attempted 61, completed 43 and got 70%. Yup, exactly the same, despite clearly having a better game. How so?
On Tuesday, he made nine successful passes into the final third from 13, 69% accurate but against Bristol Rovers, the same stats were 8 successful passes into the final third from 14 attempts, 57%. It suggests that whilst his overall involvement in terms of touches and attempts is about the same, he is sharpening up, or certainly was the other night.
He seems to have got bolder on the ball too – against Bristol Rovers he tried two dribbles, neither of which were a success. In the games after that, he didn’t show as much confidence on the ball either, making zero dribbles against Fleetwood and just two against Ipswich. Against Wigan, he attempted seven and completed four. there was far more attacking intent, which I know many expect from a midfielder playing left-back.
Defensively, Tayo is a competent left-back, there’s little doubt about that. I don’t think Michael knows which player is best in the position – Max, Sean Roughan or Tayo. Right now, Tayo is getting the nod and I suspect that is intended to give him confidence. Remember back when I spoke to Michael at the beginning of the season? He said this of Tayo – “You can tell in Tayo’s training, he wants to be in the team, and he’ll get there eventually. The more the season goes on, he will have a bigger influence on the group. I’ve got a lot of faith in him and he’s hurting being out of the team right now, as long as he keeps that he’ll get there.”
That suggests to me that Michael knows his players well, understanding for one reason or another that the former Fulham man was not quite there when we resumed in August, but that giving him game time will help bring him on, in leaps and bounds hopefully. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Max or Sean come in this weekend, to share the load, but we are getting to a point where you might soon say Tayo Edun is our first choice left-back. Certainly, if he keeps up his form from the last two matches, he will be hard to push back out of the team for very long.