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Tonight's rarely wrong cHron says:

 

 

Sheridan set to show his hand

 

Demar Phillips: No deal yet.

 

Latics latest by MICHAEL YARWOOD

 

 

MANAGER John Sheridan is likely to reveal his hand tomorrow when Athletic tackle their last friendly of the pre-season programme.

 

The game at Bradford City will see less experimentation with players and systems as Sheridan prepares for the League One curtain-raiser at home to Millwall.

 

Sheridan has admitted that the starting XI at Bradford will be very close – or maybe identical – to the team he intends to name seven days later.

 

And there are some tough decisions for the Boundary Park boss, whose only absentees are Matt Wolfenden (thigh strain) and Lee Hughes (broken little toe).

 

Sheridan’s first issue is the goalkeeping position as Greg Fleming has been showing impressive form in his bid to oust Mark Crossley from the number-one spot.

 

Sheridan also has options in defence, on the wings and up front, while he admits Mark Allott, Kevin Maher and Danny Whitaker are heading the chase for two places in midfield.

 

It is unclear, however, if tomorrow’s match will feature Demar Phillips, who has been training with Athletic for the last two weeks.

 

Phillips has done well in friendlies against Grimsby, Derby and Hull, but no deal has been agreed with Stoke to sign him on long-term loan.

 

The Jamaican international slotted in at left-back – viewed as a problem position by Sheridan – for half of Tuesday’s draw with Hull.

 

Chris Taylor and Kelvin Lomax have also been given the job in pre-season, while Athletic continue to seek new cover.

 

Sheridan said: “I still think we need more balance in the squad, even though I’ve got Chris Taylor, Danny Whitaker, Kelvin Lomax and maybe Demar Phillips to play on the left.

 

“I’m not saying I’m struggling, but I’ve asked about one or two left-backs because Kelvin, although he’s a really excellent footballer, worries me a bit defensively.”

 

Admission to the Bradford match (3pm) costs £10 for adults or £5 for over-60s and under-16s.

 

Bradford are the pre-season favourites to top League Two after signing experienced performers such as Graeme Lee (Doncaster), Michael Boulding (Mansfield), Chris Brandon (Huddersfield) and Paul McLaren (Tranmere).

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[“I’m not saying I’m struggling, but I’ve asked about one or two left-backs because Kelvin, although he’s a really excellent footballer, worries me a bit defensively.â€

 

He's always done well as far as i'm concerned when called into the team, BUT - tuesday night concerned me no end! The space afforded to Craig Fagan by Lomax was unbelievable; and his positioning defensively looked way off; the goal a case in point.

Playing with a trailist in front of him might have something to do with it (?) as each one of them wouldn't exactly know the in's & out's of each others game, but even still Kelvin worried me for the first time on Tues night.

 

Philips as the left back 2nd half didn't impress me either - he reminded me of Eddy when he slotted in there from time to time - relying on pace of recovery to sort out poor positioning & letting runners go by to easily.

Going forward was good though as he could bomb on safe in the knowledge that he didn't have to check back onto his stronger foot; the balance a natural left footer brings cannot be underestimateded.

 

1 more quality addition in the LB / Wing Back / LM area and i'd be a very happy man!!

Edited by slystallone
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Centre mid is an interesting one. Maybe Whitaker for an attacking line up, Allott and Maher for a more conservative approach - but if Whitaker plays, who plays with him? Could Ratters find himself on the bench?

 

If we were to get Phillips, I'd always go Allott and Maher. Those two sit back allowing the two quick wingers to join up with the forwards. Impressed me so far the occasions we've had Taylor wide right, Phillips left with Davies and O'Grady up top.

Edited by RoytonBlueLad
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If we were to get Phillips, I'd always go Allott and Maher. Those two sit back allowing the two quick wingers to join up with the forwards. Impressed me so far the two occasions we've had Taylor wide right, Phillips left with Davies and O'Grady up top.

 

What i took from Tuesday game was how further forward Allott played when he partner Maher in the 1st half - Maher appears to sit even deeper than Allott does and so Allott was the one who was pushing on....and i don't think thats Mark's strength at all.

Allott was immense last season in the sitting role in midfield; mopping up, hassling & playing it simple. If thats what Maher does too, then where is the CM who pushes on & joins in with the forwards?

 

I know lots go on about the "yard-dog" midfield in this league, but i still think it needs a blend of a sitting CM with defensive tendencies (Allott last year) and a more forward thinking CM who bombs on & links up with the CF's (Jarrett did this in the wonder game vs Hudds).

 

Whittaker could be this person (or Stephens as some on here are talking) - so that potentially means Allott & Maher fighting it out for the 1 yard-dog spot.

 

Interesting decisions for Shez; who'd be a manager eh??

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If we were to get Phillips, I'd always go Allott and Maher. Those two sit back allowing the two quick wingers to join up with the forwards. Impressed me so far the occasions we've had Taylor wide right, Phillips left with Davies and O'Grady up top.

 

I think it would be pretty obvious if Phillips is left out tomorrow that he isn't in Shez's plans....agreed?

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What i took from Tuesday game was how further forward Allott played when he partner Maher in the 1st half - Maher appears to sit even deeper than Allott does and so Allott was the one who was pushing on....and i don't think thats Mark's strength at all.

Allott was immense last season in the sitting role in midfield; mopping up, hassling & playing it simple. If thats what Maher does too, then where is the CM who pushes on & joins in with the forwards?

 

I know lots go on about the "yard-dog" midfield in this league, but i still think it needs a blend of a sitting CM with defensive tendencies (Allott last year) and a more forward thinking CM who bombs on & links up with the CF's (Jarrett did this in the wonder game vs Hudds).

 

Whittaker could be this person (or Stephens as some on here are talking) - so that potentially means Allott & Maher fighting it out for the 1 yard-dog spot.

 

Interesting decisions for Shez; who'd be a manager eh??

 

Agree with much of what you say but Jarrett played upfront against Huddersfirld, albeit slightly withdrawn, and was absolutely sensational.

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I think it would be pretty obvious if Phillips is left out tomorrow that he isn't in Shez's plans....agreed?

 

 

Shez says on Latics Wold (bradford preview) that he's ''still trying to sort something out with Del'' so i still think he's in his plans! he also mentions he's still after a left back OR someone to give him ballance on the left hand side, so maybe its a choice between phillips or a left back??

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Shez says on Latics Wold (bradford preview) that he's ''still trying to sort something out with Del'' so i still think he's in his plans! he also mentions he's still after a left back OR someone to give him ballance on the left hand side, so maybe its a choice between phillips or a left back??

 

cant understand why Lee wont play there, that has been i s position at Utd, surely must have been the position he was signed to play in

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What i took from Tuesday game was how further forward Allott played when he partner Maher in the 1st half - Maher appears to sit even deeper than Allott does and so Allott was the one who was pushing on....and i don't think thats Mark's strength at all.

Allott was immense last season in the sitting role in midfield; mopping up, hassling & playing it simple. If thats what Maher does too, then where is the CM who pushes on & joins in with the forwards?

 

I know lots go on about the "yard-dog" midfield in this league, but i still think it needs a blend of a sitting CM with defensive tendencies (Allott last year) and a more forward thinking CM who bombs on & links up with the CF's (Jarrett did this in the wonder game vs Hudds).

 

Whittaker could be this person (or Stephens as some on here are talking) - so that potentially means Allott & Maher fighting it out for the 1 yard-dog spot.

 

Interesting decisions for Shez; who'd be a manager eh??

 

Interesting that you refer to "yard dogs."

 

Tuesday night for me was the first time I have seen 1 of our teams set up in the Royle mould since big Joe left us.

 

By that I mean a solid 4-4-2. The midfield in particular in the first half had a definate Royle look about it. 2 snapping yard dogs in the middle who are also comfortable on the ball in Allott and Maher was so reminiscent of Milligan and Henry. Got their foot in and played simple and effective balls. They were well supported by the 2 widemen Taylor and Phillips. Not quite Adams and Holden, but certainly a league 1 equivalent. The philopsophy is quite straightforward. Win the ball and play simple. Simple balls out to the wide men or threaded through to the 2 up top - O'Grady and Davies -

 

I think that Allott and Maher will be the preferred midfield pairing providing they retain form and fitness. They both have the discipline that Henry and Milligan had, knowing that if one goes forward the other needs to hold and "fill the hole." A discipline that for me was lacking in the Wellens/McDonald partnership in Shez's 1st season and one in all honesty that was missing all of last season where we muddled through trying to find the right balance, but never getting there, mainly because for 1 reason or another, mainly injuries, the team was constantly changed. Stability in this vital area this season would make a world of difference.

 

Cheers,

 

 

Harry

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