Alex Neil sprang a surprise with the inclusion of Ellis Simms from the off on Saturday, but it quickly reaped its rewards. It was a pretty good performance overall – albeit we looked a bit suss defensively – so will we see an unchanged line-up or will the manager change things up again?
While we did line up with a back three on Saturday, we looked shaky in the wingback positions, and I wouldn't be surprised if we went with a back four – particularly as QPR will probably start with a back four. Regardless, even if we start with a three, with this 11, we can switch Gooch to right-back, push Cirkin over to a more orthodox left-back position, and play Pritchard from the right of midfield to go something resembling 4-4-2.
Here’s how we might line up today.
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
Patterson had another decent game on Saturday – I don’t think any blame could be apportioned to him for either goal – and while Bass did ok on Wednesday, his loose pass did create the attack that led to the second goal, so he’s not forced his way into serious consideration as yet.
Defence: Dan Ballard, Danny Batth, Dennis Cirkin
While we looked a little dubious defensively on Saturday, I don’t think that was because of the back three that started the game, so any change here would be a bit of a surprise, even if we go to a back four. Ballard looks a good, solid addition, Batth has great experience, and Cirkin’s settling into championship life pretty well.
Midfield: Lynden Gooch, Corry Evans, Dan Neil, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke
Our wing backs aren’t natural defenders, but offensively they’ve done pretty well, and Alex Neil admitted during the week he’s a little less concerned about defensive solidity this season and more concerned about what we do going forward. Alex Pritchard was excellent on Saturday in the second half particularly, and he’ll be hoping to produce something similar today. In midfield, Dan Neil showed some quality moments on Saturday, and he should line up alongside Corry Evans today.
Attackers: Ellis Simms, Ross Stewart
After Saturday’s three-goal haul, it’d take a brave manager to split up the Simms and Stewart strikeforce – and I think we’ll see them line up together from the off today. Simms had a great debut – he takes shots early, and that’s an excellent attribute for a forward that’s not that common in today’s game for whatever reason. It was great for Stewart to get off the mark at championship level on Saturday, and he’ll be looking to build on that this afternoon too.