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Striking Options for Keane Ahead of Leicester
Striking Options for Keane Ahead of Leicester
Friday, 14th Aug 2009 13:01

Boss Roy Keane has to decide whether to give new signing TamÃs Priskin or 16-year-old Connor Wickham their first Town league starts, or to stick with Jon Stead as the Bluesâ lone central striker when his side face Leicester in their opening home game of the season on Saturday.

Keane has utilised a 4-3-3 formation so far this season and says heâs happy with that set-up: âWeâve tried a few different things and I want my team to have variation and to be adaptable to 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or whatever it might be. I think with the players I have at the club at the moment, that seems to suit us best.

âI would definitely see it as 4-3-3. I suppose if we get beaten people will say itâs 4-5-1 and that itâs boring and defensive, but I see it as 4-3-3.â

Priskin returned from international duty with Hungary without a problem, but will have trained only briefly with his new team-mates after joining the club a week ago and making his debut as a sub at Coventry.

While Keane says he wonât pick his side until later today, the former Watford man seems likely to be a sub, while the Blues boss is confident that youngster Wickham, who scored twice at Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup, will be able to handle the pressure of playing at first team level: âIâve no worries with the boy getting carried away, itâs maybe the local media getting carried away. Theyâre the ones who need to relax because they all love a story!â

Wickham probably wonât start on Saturday having looked very tired towards the end of the 120 minutes at the Prostar Stadium and a first league start in Tuesdayâs home game against Crystal Palace looks more likely. That would see Jon Stead keep his place in the middle of the front three against the Foxes, with Jon Walters on the right and Lee Martin on the left.

Pablo CouÃago is still sidelined with his groin injury, but Keane says the Spaniard is making progress: âPablo has trained for the last few days, as has Ben Thatcher, but tomorrow is way too early for him.

âI think weâre having a reserve game on Tuesday and hopefully the two of them will be involved, Ben certainly will. Pabloâs trained really well the last few days, whether that will come too soon for him, weâll decide after the weekend. Those two and David Norris are the only injury concerns at the moment, so it could be worse.â

In midfield, Norris is out for up to four months with the knee problem he suffered at Coventry and Colin Healy, suspended for the game at the Ricoh Arena, looks set to take the holding midfield role after impressing in midweek.

Liam Trotter and Jaime Peters are likely to keep the other central positions, although Alan Quinn will be pushing them for a place after doing well at Shrewsbury. Ed Upson also impressed against the League Two side and Keane says one or two of his fringe players could have pushed themselves into his 18 with their performances on Tuesday.

Argentinian midfielder Luciano Civelli is out until early 2010 after suffering knee ligament damage last season.

At the back, Richard Wright will be in goal and Damien Delaney at left-back, while skipper Gareth McAuley will continue at centre-half against his old club.

Keane is unlikely to field both Alex Bruce and David Wright after they played 120 minutes against Shrewsbury. Bruce may take the right-back role with the ex-Wigan man still on his way back from his hip injury. If thatâs the case, Pim Balkestein will partner McAuley at the heart of the defence.

The Town boss says he expects to come up against a buoyant Leicester side: âWeâre looking forward to it. Their confidence will be sky high after promotion and theyâve had a couple of good wins in the last few days. That happens with a lot of teams that get promoted â they have that winning mentality.

âWeâre looking forward to the challenge of our first home game. Weâre expecting a very good home crowd and weâll be looking to bounce back after last weekend. It looks set up for a very good game.â

Foxes boss Nigel Pearson, whose side won 2-1 at home to Swansea last week and 2-0 at Macclesfield on Tuesday, is looking to carry on where his side left off during last seasonâs League One championship campaign: "Our away record was good and the fans backed us everywhere we went and if we can emulate last season's away form that would be something special, but that is what we aspire to.

"The mood is positive, you would probably expect that, and we are looking forward to the game. It really is a case of being positive and looking to do as well as we can do and I have confidence in the players.

"That has got to be the mentality but we certainly have players who can cause problems for the opposition. What is important is that every game we go into, we try to win but we have to play smart football.

"You can't go in gung-ho, if you have to weather the storm you have got to be able to deal with it but likewise we need to be creative as well.

"I have been pleased with the way things have gone so far but it is only two games, and one in the league, so it is very hard to predict how the season is going to go but there have been encouraging signs and that is the most important thing."

Town have the edge on Leicester historically, winning 25 (25 in the league) clashes between the sides, drawing 15 (14) and losing 21 (19).

Last time the Foxes were at Portman Road was in December 2007 when goals from Pablo CouÃago, Alan Lee and Jon Walters gave the Blues a 3-1 victory, Iain Hume netting for the visitors.

Later that month, Leicester gained their revenge with a 2-0 Boxing Day win, Richard Stearman and Patrick Kisnorbo scoring the goals.

In the 2006/07 Portman Road fixture between the sides, Town skipper Gareth McAuley scored both goals in a 2-0 Leicester win.

McAuley is not the only member of Roy Keaneâs squad to have featured for the Foxes, Damien Delaney started his English career at Leicester and Ben Thatcher had a spell at the Walkers Stadium. First team coach Tony Loughlan worked at Leicesterâs academy until joining Keane at Sunderland in 2006.

Central defender Wayne Brown is the only former Blue in the Leicester squad, although manager Nigel Pearson was close to being offered the Town bossâs job in 2006 but lost out to Jim Magilton.

Issue 98 of the TWTD fanzine is out prior to Saturdayâs game. It features the memories of Sir Bobby Robsonâs time with the Blues collected on the site last week. In addition to the tributes to Sir Bob, Gavin Barber looks at the current rebranding of Town, Roger Hermiston reviews Roy Keaneâs 2002 autobiography and Ray Slegg travels to Sweden for the European U21 Championships in amongst most of the usual sort of stuff.

Look out for our sellers by Sir Alf, next to Planet Blue and by the Portman Road entrance to the Greene King Stand.

Single issues, costing Â1.50, or six-issue subscriptions from Â9.50 are available here.

Prior to the game there will be a minuteâs applause in tribute to Sir Bobby Robson, while the club will also be giving out a free magazine with fans asked to make donations to charity in return.

Saturdayâs referee is Phil Crossley from Kent, who has already shown himself to be quick to show a red card in his two games so far this season. Former Blue Danny Haynes, now at Bristol City, was dismissed on Tuesday, while Nottingham Forestâs Luke Chambers was given his marching orders last Saturday. In addition to the two red cards, he has shown five yellows.

Crossley, who has previously taken control of a couple of Premier League games, last reffed the Blues during the 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool in February.

Likely squad: R Wright, Supple, Bruce, D Wright, Delaney, McAuley, Balkestein, Smith, Healy, Trotter, Peters, Quinn, Garvan, Upson, Colback, Walters, Martin, Stead, Priskin, Wickham.

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1RWR added 13:17 - Aug 14
Go with whoever, just glad the season has started!

Back_The_Boss added 13:24 - Aug 14
They are all good strikers!

J2BLUE added 13:30 - Aug 14
Priskin and Stead 442 please with Wickham as supersub. If we're going with one up top then Stead deserves to retain his place IMO.

PurgamentumIneo added 14:03 - Aug 14
at home, dont play 1 up-front. Priskin and Stead with Wickham to come on agree with J2BLUE on that

CapnBlues added 14:19 - Aug 14
Love these in depth previews you do! Get's me even more excited for the game! Does anyone know why we've gone from Garvan who's been a regular in the past 3-4 seasons to Trotter and Peters who couldn't even get games the past couple of years? Not that I'm questioning the Messiah!

motch2009 added 14:35 - Aug 14
i like stead - just not as a lone striker

motch2009 added 14:36 - Aug 14
oh and why are we advertising Aviva on here lol

COYB added 14:37 - Aug 14
I also <3 these previews. I would also <3 it if Gareth could score another brace tomorrow.

motch2009 added 14:38 - Aug 14
i predice a tight 2-1 win, maybe stead and martin to score

dobbie73 added 14:40 - Aug 14
Given the powerful attacking the boys showed they were capable of at Cov last Sunday, I am happy with 4-3-3 at home. Like Keano says - its 3 up front rather than 1. OK, so Stead (or whoever) is a little ahead of the rest, but the outside 2 (Martin and Walters?) are effectively slightly deep strikers rather than outside midfielders. I'd start with Martin-Stead-Walters (as at Cov), then depending on how the game is going, go Priskin-Wickham-Walters (is Priskin left or right-footed? I can't remember!), or Priskin-Wickham in a 4-4-2 and drop Walters and Martin back a bit into a 4 man midfield and sacrifice one of the central boys.

Its good that we have some flexibility up top these days - we have got used to 4-4-2, but 4-3-3 can be very powerful with the right players, as we showed in parts of the Cov game.

When Pablo is fit again, anybody got any thoughts how he will fit in? I would have thought he is similar to Priskin in style so maybe unable to pair up with him?

dobbie73 added 14:46 - Aug 14
Forgot to add my prediction .... following a legendary Big Fierce from the boss after the Cov game, the boys will be really fired up for this one and we will bag a 4-2 win over the Foxes ....

Bluebell added 14:58 - Aug 14
I really think we need to play 2 up front at home. Would like to see Stead and Priskin start with Wickham on the bench.

welshtractorboy added 15:13 - Aug 14
Bluebell totally agree to start we must play 2 up. If like other teams do they try to close the game down we can easly revert to 4-3-3.
Tuesday we did the same,did notice gaps in midfield near end ,mind you we should have been up 4 or 5 2 by then.The young lads did us proud,if JM was in charge we would have played our first team and most likely lost. We must get another CH asap. Smith will get better Wright must learn to pass gave the ball away far to often,good going forward though. Any news on Gio or Murphy(Sunderland) anyone

adamisablue added 15:14 - Aug 14
with regards to pablo fitting in. how about droping walters and martin down the mid a little bit and playing pablo "in the hole" behind (pick 2 strikers) does leave us a bit light in the mid but with some awsome striking cababilty. or we could play a 3-4-3 with a dimond midfeild healy defensive and martin attacking with wright and luco (wen he returns) to play as wing backs, but thats a bad plan untill we tighten up at the back. any thoughts?

darren_cox added 16:16 - Aug 14
We have got to start with 2 up front. If you go with just one up front then you need quality midfielders in support to make this formation a success. Personally I dont think that Martin, Walters, Trotter etc are good enough to go and get the goals needed for us to go up.
We should go with Priskin and Stead up front, with Martin and Walters playing wide in midfield.

haynes_is_a_ledgend added 16:41 - Aug 14
well up front wickham and prinski and john any way weres pablo

gypo added 16:58 - Aug 14
i`ll go for a 4-1 win, stead hat-trick

TractorRoyNo1 added 16:59 - Aug 14
Sad to hear that Agent Gunn has been discovered; I was confident he would take them down again.

europeantour added 17:00 - Aug 14
The scum have sacked Gunn, what a shambles ha ha ha ha

MarkITFC added 17:02 - Aug 14
Id start Priskin and id like to see him start. We shouldnt start Wickham , bring him on in 70th minute when there team r getting nakerd , then bring on a young Wickham and run them around. Great sub to bring on. Id lie to see 4-4-2 as we r at home. Priskin n Stead. I would mind if he started ahead of Stead though.


AlexITFC added 17:03 - Aug 14
Priskin and Stead to start upfront, with Martin and Walters on the wings. Bring on Wickham with about 25mins to go..... first home game, we cant throw young Wickham in the deep end too early can we..

streety86 added 17:15 - Aug 14
Would like to see garvan given a start tomorrow, although trotter and peters have done well so far he looked great against cov allways very composed on the ball. Can't wait for kick off should be a good game


TractorBoyOlly added 17:28 - Aug 14
I don't really understand how you can play 4-3-3/4-5-1 at home???

rory293 added 17:29 - Aug 14
I think Garvan wouldnt be a bad choice with the injury to Norris. Think we'll start how we have done with the 4-3-3, but would rather see priskin and stead together upfront without having to sacrifice a winger. I think Wickham will be shattered after 120 minutes on tuesday and i don't think he'll be brought on unless we need a change untill about 15-20 minutes from time.
Hopefully a good turn out tomorow, lots of noise please! I don't want to watch football in the library that was portman road of seasons past.

reevetard added 17:33 - Aug 14
We should start 4-4-2 with Snake and Stead up front, wickham sub. Don't like the 4-3-3, the players just don't look comfortable with it and none of our forwards are good enough to play a lone striker role. Premier league clubs struggle to pull off a 4-3-3 let alone us!!

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