As the season draws ever nearer – we’re now just hours away from kick off – our team has been getting stronger, and I’ve been getting more excited. I genuinely do believe that we can compete at this level but as I keep stressing, there are so many variables which could cause us to finish anywhere from the bottom three to the playoffs.
Anyway, today I thought I’d share with you my preferred starting XI for this game, as well as what I believe Parky will go with.
My preferred XI: 4-4-2
Howard; Darby; Wheater; Burke; Taylor; Morais; Karacan; Vela; Buckley; Le Fondre; Madine
I think most fans would prefer to start with Mark Beevers and keep our great partnership at the back form last season, and I completely understand that. However, in the Championship, our defence will be coming up against more pace and more skill than in League 1 and so I think we do need someone like Reece Burke who may be better equipped to deal with it. I’ve also done this on the basis that Morais is fit to start. The sense I’ve got from Twitter is that a slim majority of fans prefer Ben Alwnick in goal. However, I’ve always though Howard to be the more composed and confident of the two. Darby looks like he’s nudged ahead of Little in the pecking order at right back, but if Parky goes with a 3-5-2 he may prefer the faster Little. Karacan and Vela are two of my favourite players in the squad, although we do look like we’re lacking slightly in size in the middle. Therefore I was pondering putting Pratley alongside Karacan, and Vela behind the striker. However, I’ve gone with two in the middle, which would be a bit of a risk. Will Buckley is a proven Championship winger, and gets the nod from me to start, while Le Fondre and Madine look like the obvious pair to start up front at this stage. At least one of Armstrong and Wilbraham are likely to feature from the bench.
However, with that all said, I think Parkinson will have something slightly different in mind.
My predicted XI: 3-5-2
Howard; Morais; Burke; Wheater; Beevers; Taylor; Karacan; Vela; Cullen; Le Fondre; Madine
If Morais is fit, I reckon he’ll get the nod ahead of Darby. If not, I really do think we’ll lack width going forward. Given what we saw in pre-season, I would be surprised if Parkinson did not go with this formation. However, Darby could easily be swapped in for Morais; Cullen could be swapped for someone like Buckley – or even Pratley, and Vela could move forward.
We shall see what Parky does. Either way, in him we trust!