Next up on the positional review. Defenders. Side note, this took a lot longer than expected.
I’m going through this by number, here goes,
Cameron Norman –
Cameron is a tricky one, he is very inconsistent to say the least. Whilst doing a bit of facts and figures research I looked through his past record. He only played a handful of games for Oxford before joining us. Before that? All of his football was in non-league. I feel a run of games would help him get used to league football, as last season was a bit of a right-off. He was always going to be playing back-up to Devlin last year (until Devlin was put at Right-Mid) and this year, after what I have seen, I would always choose Facey. I like the guy, he does a lot in the community, something I will always respect any player for doing, and despite his displays being hit and miss, he never seems to slack off. In January we signed him for 2 and a half years, but at 24, I would much rather our players have more league experience.
Cameron Pring –
This may be controversial, so please bear with. I like Pring’s directness, and attacking flair, and he does like to get up the pitch. But, he only has 1 assist, which means he isn’t effective going forward. Defensively, I think he isn’t as solid as Cockerill-Mollett. So that’s the choice. We have rarely had 2 fully fit Left-Backs for Darrell to choose after CCM’s shining displays, which doesn’t give us any idea who the preferred player is. Pring is 1 year older the Cockerill-Mollett, and if both are fit, I choose CCM. I said it about Roberts and Rose, but in a scenario where the players are of a similar age, and there is little to choose between their ability and form, I choose our own. If Pring added more assists then that should put him above CCM, but for now? I put him as second choice.
Mat Sadler –
I was very pleased to see Mat return to the club. We knew he wouldn’t be playing week in week out because he is 34. When he has played, he has proved to be a very mixed bag. We all know about ‘that’ handball, but since that, he has been extremely solid. He is a player with the wealth of experience that we need at times. I think him and Scarr have built up a very good partnership in the middle, and I would expect him to continue flicking in and out of the side. Overall I would say his performances have summed up the season. On his day brilliant, but leaves us questioning consistency with the occasional howler.
James Clarke –
There are a few mixed views about Clarke after the last couple of games. So I’ll break down the pro’s and con’s. Recently he has had to play all across that defence, and he seems like he doesn’t mind playing out of position for the good of the team, something which I will always admire a player for doing. He has stepped up to the captaincy too, a role he hasn’t had to do before. He has scored some amazing goals which we all loved, and those goals have been big goals too. 2 of his goals ended in 1-0 wins, and the other was in a 3-2 win. So points wise, his goals have been so valuable. Recently, yes his performances haven’t been up to the standard we expect, or would want. But he is driven, and from what I have seen, he will never give up. Against Crewe he was limping up and down the pitch after picking up and injury. One tiny thing that made me like Clarke was the way he is with fans. He has led the applause for the team towards fans post match, and not half hearted, he takes his time, even during the losing streak where the atmosphere was hostile. That, and the fact you can see his passion make me love the guy. You can see how much a win means, and how painful a loss is. I know some fans will disagree, but to me, the place we are as a club right now, players who play with pride and passion and put their all in is what I want to see, because it has been lacking in recent years.
Dan Scarr –
What a tank. Tom Pope is still pleading with Scarr to be let out his back pocket. I really like Scarr, a lot. He is a heartbreaker though, he is my £1 first goal scorer and it is yet to come off for me. He has really grown into this team. He had a tough season last year, as did all the players part of that campaign. But I feel he is the CB that should be first on the teamsheet. I don’t expect people to agree. For me, he seems to have grown as a player, and as a leader on the pitch. In Clarkes absence earlier in the season, he was vocal, good with the fans and wore his heart on his sleeve on the pitch. He has shown he can come up against some solid, tough, experienced strikers in this league. He can have his moments, as every player at this level can, but I feel he is a solid player who is growing all the time.
Kory Roberts –
The recovery he has made is incredible. I was so glad to see him back out on the pitch playing again. He has looked pretty decent in his few appearances this season, which is promising after the time he missed. He had to step up potentially quicker than expected when we had a few defensive injuries. For me, I would like to seeI him play more, whether that is here, or whether it be out on loan for a short spell. He has recently turned 22, and has only applied his trade at Walsall, so I think a run of competitive action would be good for him, rather than being sat on the bench.
Callum Cockerill-Mollett –
Oh boy has Callum shown his potential this season. Another player who’s progress has been stunted through injury, but one who has grasped his first team chance with both hands. He has played in a back 3, 4 and 5, and in both Left-Back and the left hand-side of a back 3. He is 20, and has shown he is a very valuable asset. He has built up a good partnership with McDonald and defensively he is committed and driven. my heart sank seeing him get injured a few games ago. Thankfully it is not as bad as we all feared. I mentioned this in my Pring section, but when both are fit, I would choose CCM. He has shown development game on game when having a run in the team. So another run would be great to see his development, and a chance at more league football for him.
Shay Facey –
It took a while for him to break into the first team. Whether this was due to injury, fitness, or not being in favour, we don’t know. He has by far looked our best Right-Back and for me is first choice. He has played at a very consistent level since being brought into the starting line-up. He has a good attacking flair, and covers every blade of grass on the right hand side. He looks better the more game time he has had, which is promising to see if he can continue playing. Clarke seems to be starting to settle his team, and for me, Facey has a place in that team.
Zak Jules –
Any ideas what has happened to Jules? Anyone? His first few game were shaky, but then he found a level of consistency. He really won the backing of the fans. He was strong, physical and an overall good defender, both in the middle and on the left. But a few less than convincing performances later and he is now nowhere to be seen. He has been travelling with the squads, and the DC has confirmed he isn’t injured. So where do we go from here. I can really see Jules leaving in January. The signs of a fallout, or falling out of favour are there. I think its a shame because he did show he can hit a certain level, but I felt he needed game time. If he isn’t going to get it here then I think he should be moved on. He left Shrewsbury by mutual consent, and has struggled to find a home at a club. He has pretty much played the same amount of games here than at a lot of other clubs. We are his 10th club. Yes a lot were loans, but 10 clubs is a lot.
What do I want to see in January?
I would like to see two players leave, one on loan, one permanatly. I think Kory Roberts needs game time. To really get back to the player he was becoming before the horror injury. I can’t really see it happening as he is consistently on the bench recently. I also feel with Jules out of favour, Kory is the one that is the defender that would step up if needed.
I said it in Jules’ section, but I think that something has gone on to lead him to fall out of favour, and therefore it would be best for all involved if he left the club. If that’s the case, then I would like to see a versatile defender come in his stead. Someone young, who needs a bit of developing and someone that pushes for a place. At the moment I don’t think that Jules is threatening anyone’s places, which is what we need to be doing.