Now that Pantsil’s off to the ACN (and perhaps for longer if his knee injury is worse than feared), who’s going to play at right-back? Whoever it’s going to be has quite a job to live up to: Pantsil was outstanding against Didier Drogba this afternoon, and has been marvelous since his joined the club in the summer of 2008. The options:
Stephen Kelly: Injured at the moment (which is why Kallio was recalled so soon after his loan was extended), and I’m not sure how long he’s going to be out for. Whilst looking ok there, he hasn’t especially shone. However, in the home game against Basel, he dovetailed superbly down the right with Riise, and has plenty of Premier League experience at RB (more than most 25-year-olds). This could be his chance to show what he can properly do if he regains his fitness soon.
Chris Baird: At most an emergency right-back. Plus, he has been so impressive in centre-midfield that he should not be moved from there. His reading of the game is magnificent, resulting in him making multiple important interceptions, often nicking the ball from the feet of the opposition’s playmaker. Starting to develop a good partnership with Murphy, and with Etuhu going to the ANC too, that leaves Greening as the only other option (not sure if Dikgacoi is going as well). Whilst he’s done ok there, Baird deserves to keep his place next to Danny.
Aaron Hughes: Has played at right-back for Newcastle, Aston Villa and Northern Ireland, so will know what he is doing there. This move would also allow Chris Smalling to get more game time in between Hughes and Hangeland. However, Hughes does appear to be the one who leads and organises the defence, and this might be difficult for him to do at right-back.
Fredrik Stoor: This would be an interesting one. Wants first-team football, but seems keen to leave the club too. A good spell in the side could be his chance to alert interest in him from other clubs, meaning that he can leave and we can get a decent return from our investment in him. Equally, if he plays well enough, he could show Hodgson what he can offer the side, and get more game time in the future. Was injured recently at Derby though, and am unsure when he will be fit again to play.
Chris Smalling: Has impressed so far at centre-back, and this could be an opportunity for him to get more experience in the first-team. In addition, it could be invaluable for him to get a further understanding of a full-back’s role, and make him a more versatile player. However, he doesn’t seem to have the pace to play at full-back, and having performed so well in the centre, it would be demanding and rather unfair for him to be asked to do so in an unfamiliar postion.
Keanu Marsh-Brown: Regarded as one of Fulham’s most promising prospects. An attacking right-back, now a regular in the development squad, but having never played for the first team, it would be a massive surprise if Hodgson elected to thrust him into the starting line-up.
Or perhaps there is some substance to Hodgson’s reported interest in Tottenham’s Alan Hutton….
Blimey. I didn’t realise we had so many options. I’d hope that Kelly’s injury isn’t too serious as he really is our first choice back up full back. I think Mr Hodgson is likely to choose the most conservative option, i.e. the one he thinks will cause the least disruption to our balanced side.
Based on those named above I reckon he might go with Baird at RB and Greening alongside Murphy. I think Chris can do a job for us in that role, he was unfortunate today as it’s difficult to adapt to a new position mid-game. If he knows he’s playing RB from the start I think he’d be fine.
AS soon as Pantsil came off, we didn’t have someone to stick onto Drogba and 2 minutes later he scored. It wasn’t necesserily Bairds faullt, its just that he has adapted so well to the centre mid-field role. Pantsil had an excellent game and I think that bringing him off was what changed to result just because he controlled Droggba today.
So I think that it would be amistake to put Baird in there. He has been class in mid field so I don’t think Roy should change that.
I also think that Hughes should definatly stay in the centre of the defence because him and Hangeland are so solid in there. Hughes is a calm player and you need someone like that in the centre.
Stoor for me would also be a bad choice. He hasn’t impressed me at all and the few times I have seen him he has looked uncomfortable.
I think we should stick to Kelly once he is back but for the meantime see how Smalling does.
I think Kelly has looked too slow. Can Riise play right back?
Riise would push up too much to be a RB. That might leave us short at the back at the wrong moments. It might be too risky but its an option.
i would say Baird. it seems like Etuhu is getting close to full fitness. he’ll slide in next to Murphy…how we started the season.
Baird has been excellent for us in midfield recently and was easily our best player against Spurs; not laying a foot wrong in a game that Murphy did not do so well in. Regardless of whether we think Paintsil might have prevented Drogba’s goal or not, I think we have all seen enough of Baird at right back to know that this is not an option.
Baird is one of our best players at the moment, but he is not a RB. I think Stephen Kelly is the planned replacement and IMO with a run of games JP might actually have a problem getting straight back into the team. Most of his games for us have been out of position and even then his pass for Zoltan to score in Basle showed soemthing that JP has not as yet. Agreed their primary role is to defend.
For the immediate term I think Roy will play somebody else there rather than baird. We might even see Stoor (if fit) is Joe Anderson a RB?
Lets see who plays there against Swindon and you might just see them play there again against Stoke.
I would agree that Kelly is the obvious replacement. However, the fact that Kallio was suddenly recalled from his loan spell and has taken Kelly’s place on the bench would suggest that Kelly isn’t fit at the moment. Like I said, I’m not sure how serious the injury is or how long he is out for, and that is why I’m suddenly unsure at how the defence will line up in January.
Chopper and Tim – It would be a mistake to play Baird at right-back IMO. Not only because he is playing fantastically well at CM and has been poor at RB, but also because it is a question of confidence. When he was at RB earlier in his Fulham career, you could see that his poor performances got to him – it took him about a year to even get a game in the first team again. Now he has played exceptionally well at CM against Liverpool. Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea amongst others, and his confidence is running high. In fact, I would go as far as to say that he is now a key player for us.
Alan C – Anderson is a LB. Whilst he is quite highly rated, he hasn’t really impressed me the times I have seen him, and, if pressed, would rather play Marsh-Brown. He is a RB (although perhaps more suited as a RM who will put in a defensive shift), and looks more promising than Anderson in my humble opinion.
Geoff – Riise is an interesting shout, but I would agree with Lydia. I think the more likely scenario would actually be Simon Davies if he is fit. Has played there now and then under Coleman and Hodgson (although mainly in a reorganised side after substitutions), most recently in the game against Bolton, where he linked up beautifully with Duff going forward. Not entirely convinced that his defensive work is good enough though.
Hughes is too important to move away from his natural position (much like Baird), and I can’t see Smalling being particularly effective away from the centre.
For me, Kelly has to be the number one choice. If he’s not fit however, I wouldn’t mind Stoor being given one last chance to show what he can do. He obviously has potential, as we have seen in his performances for Sweden, and will be eager to impress – if not to make the RB spot his own, then to attract suitors to get him out of Fulham.
Think we are somewhat fortunate that our first game without Pantsil is against Swindon. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Hodgson give a couple of players a go in the right-back slot.
When will Simon Davies be fit? It would be possible to play him there, if fit enough. He has played there in an emergency before.
I know I might be a lone voice in the dark (well, Tim apart) but I don’t think we should give up on Baird as emergency RB cover. I’m not going to suggest he could do as well as Paintsil or Kelly but I do think he could do a job. My memory stretches back to a performance at Stamford Bridge, when his reputation was still pretty poor but he did outstandingly well, and also the odd sub appearance (I think Arsenal this season) when he stepped in and did well.
We would lose the attacking endeavour but if Chris concentrated on keeping things tight he could more than hold his own.
Good debate though.