A little more on the injury situation ahead of the Everton game on Sunday. Here’s Roy sounding pretty upbeat:
Luckily both Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora are back which hopefully will help us. We’ve played three league games and Zamora and Johnson have only played one of them, which we won one-nil against Portsmouth.
That’s brilliant news. It’s no surprise that we’ve looked lacklustre since our first choice front pairing have been missing. They might not have scored as many goals as we expected when Fulham paid out all that money for them last summer, but AJ and Bobby are a real handful, and their contribution can’t be measured by goals alone. Picking from a full-strength squad, I’d definitely be fielding them up front.
It looks like Danny Murphy, who got injured against Chelsea, will be back as well. The competition for places now is going to be quite fierce and I’m expecting us to have a good season.
Murphy’s the one I’m excited about. He’s revelled in a return to a more attacking role, having played in a deeper position when paired with Bullard in our old midfield. He never had any great pace, it’s the thought and guile that still makes him one of the league’s most effective players and we really missed him against Aston Villa. After the headlines suggested he would be unavailable again earlier today, this is a real boost.
Simon Davies is also available for selection on Sunday. We’ve a very strong area now in midfield where I think we’ve got a lot of good players who are all strong and fit and wanting to play. I’ve got to make a decision on which ones play and which ones don’t. It’s great competition.
The return of Simon Davies is welcome. He’ll always give 100% – whether played on the right or left – and his quality is well known. I’m not sure that Roy would throw him in from the start, but Davies will be desperate to prove a point against his former club. The fact that the Welshman was known as ‘Digger’ had passed me by, until now, as well.
The point about competition for places is a really good one too. With Dikgacoi, Riise and Greening all keen for a chance, Hodgson’s got the kind of selection headache every manager loves.
The only cloud on the horizon is the possible absence of Mark Schwarzer, who hurt his neck against South Korea in midweek.
Mark may not be fit for this weekend unless he recovers from the injury he picked up playing against South Korea.
The Australian would be a big miss if he is unfit. Schwarzer’s been superb in goal since he joined us and we still look a little light in terms of quality back-up. I do hope that young David Stockdale gets a game if Schwarzer is ruled out as Zubi’s looked a little rusty behind the sticks every time I’ve seen him.