Feels like the season just finished and already the groundsman’s working to fix up the pitch for a mid week game. We play utter minnors NSÍ Runavík, hailing from the Faroe Islands so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest it’ll the most comfortable win all season. Already there’s been a fair bit of talk over who will play (and Jol has implied that the youth are going to get their chance in the earlier stages), so here’s my take on the potential Fulham line up..
In goal Etheridge won’t play, I’m pretty sure about that. He’s unproven but seeing as Stockdale is also relatively inexperienced Jol will surely go with him if he wants to look at a keeper that isn’t Schwarzer. With Schwarzer the game would surely only be a warm up excersise whereas I think there are a few benefits to playing Stockdale (Jol will hardly know him so it’s an opportunity to see him, more match experience for him and so on) so I can see Stockdale playing in goal tomorrow.
We have no senior left backs after Salcido was ruled out (unless you count Baird and Kelly…) so Matty Briggs will surely slot in at left back, getting another game under his belt no matter how low key is never a bad thing. Jol may want to have a look at Kelly there though, see how he fits in to the squad. In the centre of defence I think that Senderos will get a game. We have barely seen him the past year and he is still making his way back to full fitness off a successful back end to last season which he will surely want to continue, so this is a good opportunity for him to demonstrate why he should be part of the squad. His partner will probably be one of Hughes or Hangeland. Halliche might get a game but it is always uneasy to go with a totally reserved line up, I’m sure Jol will want to keep some of the core first team on the pitch. It’s a toss up between the two but I think it’ll be Hangeland, to please the punters. At right back it’s a choice between Kelly and Baird. Although Kelly is possibly more of a ‘Jol’ full back (quicker for one thing) I reckon it’ll be Baird who gets the nod, he is an usual choice at full back seeing as almost all his attributes lend themselves to being a centre half but he was a major success there and I think Jol will want to see how he plays.
After just a week of training I don’t expect any change in formation so I think we’ll stick with the 4 in midfield with Dembele on the left wing, a position Jol is more used to seeing him. On the other side Jol has a choice of Davies or Duff from the first team but after his loan spell out in Milton Keynes I reckon Keanu Marsh-Brown will get a chance to showcase his talent (alternatively he could play at right back). In the midfield I have a feeling Murphy will play because Jol would want to have his captain out there and maintain that core first team. Alongside him then could be Sidwell or Greening (I think Etuhu is injured going off Jol’s press conference?). Of the two I’d imagine it’ll be Sidwell but I can see Frei or Minkwitz, two talented ball playing midfielders, promoted from the youth team instead, or at the very least get on the bench.
Usually choosing Zamora upfront would be a no brainer, but in the last few games of the season he appeared to be struggling with injury. That, coupled with being on England duty just over 3 weeks ago, means that it’s unlikely that he’ll start upfront. In his place will be our next senior striker Andy Johnson who I’m sure will relish playing up against the slower and less talented defence of NSI. Alongside him I wouldn’t be suprised to see a youth prospect; after being on the bench for the last game of last season it looks like Danny Hoesen is in pole position for the place it’d seem but the likes of Trotta and Peniket may see game time as well. Dembele could play in that withdrawn role but traditional Jol teams haven’t had a forward like that.
So we have a predicted team of:
Baird – Hangeland – Senderos – Briggs
Marsh-Brown – Murphy – Sidwell – Dembele
Andy Johnson – Hoesen
A solid mix of first team regulars, players pushing for first team places and youth. We could see another couple of younger players play as well, in a way I’d rather have that to have a look at what they’re about, but as long as we get a few goals I won’t really mind.
Only two days, COYWs!