After Saturday’s performance, and news of Dennis Cirkin’s enforced spell on the sidelines, Lee Johnson’s got some big calls to make when it comes to tonight’s team. Given our lack of full backs, and the way we’ve struggled against teams deploying wing backs, I suspect we’ll go with three at the back, matching up Shrewsbury as we look for back to back wins.
While we lined up in a 4-4-2 from the start on Saturday, the players who started the game are capable of shuffling around to play as a back three, so I’m predicting we’ll see one, injury-enforced change tonight.
Goalkeeper: Thorben Hoffmann
Hoffmann’s triple save in the first half was critical for us, and it’s those big moments he’s been brought in for. He also showed some decent command of his box too – he came out in the first half and absolutely clattered everything in front of him, which was nice to see. He’ll certainly keep his place tonight, barring anything unforeseen happening.
Defence: Tom Flanagan, Bailey Wright, Callum Doyle
Luke O’Nien was many people’s man of the match on Saturday, and it was good to see him turn in a matchwinning display. We all know he’s been battling on with a shoulder injury this season – and all credit to him for that – but reading in between the lines of the update published on SAFC.com, it may be getting to the point where he needs an operation. Therefore, I think we’ll recall Flanagan to the team to play alongside Wright and Doyle in a back three as Johnson figures out a way to cope with our left-back injury crisis.
Midfield: Carl Winchester, Corry Evans, Dan Neil, Lynden Gooch
With three in defence, we’ll likely deploy Winchester in a slightly more advanced role than he has been this season as a wing back, while on the other flank, in the absence of many other options, Lynden Gooch could be asked to fill in. Gooch is a frustrating player, however, he always guarantees you workrate and tenacity. In the centre, captain Evans will be looking to have more of an impact on the game than he was able to do on Saturday, while Dan Neil will retain his place alongside him. Getting Dan Neil on the ball is crucial, we need to play through him whenever possible.
Attacking midfield: Elliot Embleton
We’ve got an embarrassment of riches in the attacking midfield area, with Pritchard, Dajaku and McGeady playing important roles from the bench on Saturday. Embleton struggled to get into the game at the weekend, and his set pieces were poor, and Johnson could be tempted to start Alex Pritchard here. However, I think he’ll stick with Embleton, with the hope he can play himself into some form.
Forwards: Nathan Broadhead, Ross Stewart
While the 4-4-2 at the weekend didn’t work, we did see some nice link-up play between Stewart and Broadhead, and a benefit of playing three at the back is it enables us to go two up front. Broadhead has a lot to offer us, and I think he’ll be given another runout alongside the impressive Stewart.