Tomorrow we welcome back our League One campaign after a two week break due to players being called up for international duty. David Forde, Shane Ferguson and Shaun Cummings were the lucky three involved with their nations, with only Cummings playing 90 minutes for Jamaica, earning his third cap for his nation. Should we have played last weekend at home to Doncaster? That’s a topic debated over and over again, but nonetheless we find ourselves 3 points above relegation and 6 behind the play-offs. Swindon currently sit 19th in the table, despite reaching the play-offs last season, so the game presents an interesting affair. Having shipped 5 in our last league game away to Peterborough, I’m sure we all agree a huge improvement is needed if we are going to get more wins on the board.
Having signed 19 players in the summer, Swindon perhaps are at a similar stage to us, changing the core of their squad and at the moment struggling to nail down a consistent team. Having not won in 6 games, including a 1-0 defeat to Blackpool the visitors are struggling to buy a win. They perhaps suit our own style of play under Harris, with an average possession stat of 59%. We play better when sitting back and compact, and when with the ball hitting teams on the counter at pace with our wide men and two vocal points up top with Morison and O’Brien or Gregory. The danger men so far this season are Jon Obika – Remember him? – and Nicky Ajose, with Obika scoring 4 goals in 8 appearances this season. It’s a pacy team that keeps ball well, and will attempt to frustrate us at home, however if we can get an early goal I see us going onto win the game comfortably.
Looking back at our team and potential XI come kick-off, with Abdou and Upson missing they’re big spaces to fill in the side. Abdou especially is very important in a 4-4-2, when you look to chase the ball you need a player like Jimmy. However, as always when there is an injury there is a chance for someone else to come in and impress, whether that be Ben Thompson or George Saville. The signing of Saville could be a very good suit for the side, he has the ability to get hold of the ball and pick a pass, and also capable of doing the dirty work. He might not look the same type, but he reminds me of a Nicky Bailey kind of player, and with the chance of a consistent run in the team, the next few games could bring the best out of him. Up top we are now a striker down with John Marquis going out again on loan to Leyton Orient, being a three month loan and the words coming out of the club and manager it feels like the end of Marquis. It’s a shame it has never really happened for Marquis, however you can no longer consider him a young forward with promise and you need performances out of him. The only way he is going to get those performances under his belt is by playing games, something he just couldn’t get here competing with Steve Morison since his return. I personally don’t feel he got his chance this season, but who am I to judge when I don’t see training and on-goings behind the scenes, I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping Marquis does well at Orient and proves some people wrong. And as above with George Saville, with Marquis leaving it now presents a chance to someone to take his place in the squad. Alfie Pavey is the name thrown around in recent posts online, having scored 7 so far this season in the development league he is worth a chance in the side. As I’ve mentioned in a post about him previously, he is a player that has joined late to the club, but has developed massively over the last season.
So as per my usual previews, I put my own XI together for your reading, I would really like to hear what you think, so leave some response below or tweet me on Twitter!
So the tricky subject having shipped 5 at Peterborough is the defence and the goalkeeper, I think Archer picks himself at the minute, he may have done better for a couple of the goals at Peterborough, but would Forde have done any better? Probably not. The back four might be the most debated, I’ve gone with Edwards continuing at right back and Martin coming in on the left, this pushes Craig to the centre with Beevers. Edwards has tailored off in recent games, however he brings a lot more to the side than just his own performances, he brings composure at the back and players like Beevers take an extra touch because of his presence at the back. Martin coming in at left back has been long awaited, he picked up a freak injury in pre-season when he looked a decent full back and was destined to start the season in his position. Having not played much he might not be 100% match fit, but he bring natural full back play compared to Craig, who we know is not a comfortable there compared to centre half. The central pairing took the most thinking when picking this XI, with a game on Tuesday night I’d like to think Nelson comes in at Blackpool and gets his chance in the side. Playing two left footed defenders in the central area is seen as a crime by some, but having played there last game against Northampton, I believe both Beevers and Craig compliment each other at the back. If Beevers goes for a aerial challenge Craig is there to cover, Craig is more mobile and can do a job in that position.
In midfield I’ve gone for a 3 across the middle compared to our usual 4-4-2 formation, with Jimmy missing he is a big loss for the side, and playing in that 4-4-2 without Jimmy we are left often powerless and almost as if the midfield is non-existent. With Saville coming in to the side he offers a bit of everything, and Thompson brings the energy we will miss without Jimmy, Thompson is perhaps a better footballer than a tackler and nuisance which Jimmy is and does perfectly. Williams has drastically improved since the last international break, partly due to the change of play and the return of Edwards, he is clearly more sharp and keen to get involved. Playing in a 3 man midfield should give him more time on the ball and the ability to pick out passes and get us attacking with the front 3.
Up top I’ve opted for Fred and O’Brien either side of Morison, while they will be wingers when we don’t have the ball, with the ball they would be pushing right up to Morison, trying to play the game in the Swindon half. Fred perhaps didn’t have a good time of it in a few games and has been an impact from the bench, but with Martin out of form also and Cowan-Hall not fit yet he picks himself in this position. O’Brien is a ball carrier and key to our side, he has the ability like Fred to pickup the ball and run at the opposition, he is our top scorer on 4 goals and will be keen to add to this tally. Morison has lead the line superbly this season, and with both Fred and O’Brien supporting should be able to link play well with the more technically gifted players, he needs to bring more goals to the equation but has brought more than goals in recent games, with two assists against Northampton.
So that’s my preview, what is your prediction for the game tomorrow?