Last night’s game has given us some food for thought as we look ahead to Saturday’s league tie at Millwall. However, I’m going to go with a fairly similar team to the one I picked ahead of the Leeds game.
Howard keeps his place in goal for me. I tend to prefer him to Alnwick – I think he seems to command his back four more confidently and has better handling, although I feel that they’re both fairly similar in quality.
I would play four at the back, with Stephen Darby at right back. I know he’s not started the season brilliantly, but let’s give him a chance in his preferred position and let him do what he’s best at: defending. Reece Burke has to start at centre back for me, given his impressive first two performances. Alongside Burke, Beevers gets the nod. It seems unlikely that Wheater will be fit, and Beevers is the obvious choice; it’s also nice to have a left footed centre back on the left. I’d also stick with Andrew Taylor at left back – he’s experienced and finished the game against Leeds very well. Parkinson may be inclined to give Mark Little or Antonee Robinson a go at full back, having played them against Crewe, though.
Filipe Morais would start on the right wing, with Will Buckley on the left. This gives us some natural width which I feel we really lack when we play three at the back (especially when the wing backs are more suited to playing as full backs). Through the middle is where I have difficulties deciding. I have selected Jem Karacan and Darren Pratley. Obviously Vela’s injury is a real blow, and we need to replace his energy. I tend to think Pratley is the only player in our squad who can replicate it. I know Pratley has his critics – of which I am one – but I’d like to take you back to the early Lennon era. We went through a really good phase where we played five in midfield. Danns and Pratley played in a holding role; Clayton down the left; Feeney down the right; Chungy in the middle and Craig Davies up front. Due to injuries we only got to play with this formation a few times, but it worked really well. Pratley’s energy was key to this. Also, when playing with confidence, he is actually surprisingly good on the ball. He scored some great goals under Lennon. Let’s hope Parky can get the best out of him like he has with Madine. While I like the look of Cullen, I worry that if we just played Cullen and Karacan, we’d be too lightweight in midfield. Some have called for Derik to start in midfield, but I’m yet to be convinced by him as a midfielder. I think he’s most suited to played as a right handed centre back in a back three. Specific, I know.
I would start with Madine and Le Fondre up front. Madine has been terrific in the two games he’s played so far, and I was impressed with Le Fondre’s work rate. They’d both benefit a lot from from some more natural width, which Buckley and Morais would provide them with. I expect Parkinson to go with this pair too. Armstrong off the bench could add some real pace against tiring defenders.
This would leave us with a team looking like this:
Darby Burke Beevers Taylor
Morais Karacan Pratley Buckley
Le Fondre Madine
With that all said, I think Parkinson is likely to stick to the 3-5-2 he’s used in both games so far. He may go for something like this:
Dervite Burke Beevers
Morais Karacan Pratley Taylor
Le Fondre Madine
He may well change Derik for Dervite, start Robinson instead of Taylor or change the midfield three.
What team would you go with? Let us know in the comments below.