After Saturday’s point at Wycombe, the lads return to the SOL tonight – and with Corry Evans out after being knocked out during the closing stages of the game, and no real prospect of any returning first teamers, the squad’s stretched thin.
Here’s how we might start the game tonight.
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
Patterson did well enough on Saturday, particularly given the circumstances – he pulled off some decent saves in the first half particularly and was clearly fouled for their second goal. He’ll probably have a quieter game this evening and will be looking to keep a clean sheet after conceding three at the weekend.
Defence: Lynden Gooch, Tom Flanagan, Callum Doyle, Dennis Cirkin
The defence struggled a bit at times on Saturday as we reverted back to a more traditional four, as opposed to the lopsided wing back formation that has seen Bailey Wright add a bit more solidity. Tonight, with Corry Evans sidelined, we’re likely to see Winchester back in midfield, so there’s a gap at right back. With Wright seemingly injured, it’s a choice between new signing Trai Hume and Lynden Gooch back there – and while I’d not be too surprised to see the youngster thrown in, I suspect Gooch will be moved back there. He’s played his best football from full back this season too, so he’s more than capable of slotting in there. Alongside him, it’s as you were – Flanagan, Doyle and Cirkin will most likely keep their places.
Midfield: Carl Winchester, Dan Neil
It’s a real shame Evans can’t seem to string more than three games together as he’s a quality player who adds a lot – however we were warned about his fitness when he signed so it’s no real surprise. After coming back into the team after his own injury struggles, Carl Winchester will surely switch into the centre of midfield to replace the team captain. Alongside him, will be the excellent Dan Neil.
Attack: Jack Diamond, Alex Pritchard, Ross Stewart, Elliot Embleton
Jack Diamond has impressed for Harrogate this season, and was brought off the bench on Saturday – so it seems likely he’ll be selected to take the place created by Evans’ injury. Although he’s been out on loan, he’s played last season under Johnson, and has been back at the AOL on occasion for training while out on loan, so he’s well versed in how the team plays. In addition, his best game for the lads came away at Lincoln last season, which could influence Johnson’s decision. Alongside him in the attacking line will be Pritchard and Stewart – who must be two of the most inform players in the league at present – and Elliot Embleton. Embleton’s playing himself back into form – he was so unlucky with that effort that crashed against the bar on Saturday – and I’d just love to see him get more involved throughout the 90 minutes. Ross Stewart, with two hat-tricks in two games (I’m giving him the first on Saturday, even if no one else is!) picks himself. He’s another who’s played himself back into form, and looks so dangerous at present.