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Smith and Berra Face Battle for Starting Spot
Tuesday, 2nd Aug 2016 06:00

Town boss Mick McCarthy has hinted that senior central defenders Christophe Berra and Tommy Smith will be battling it out for the left-sided central defensive berth with the right-footed Adam Webster having been added to the squad from Portsmouth over the summer.

The 21-year-old, who joined the Blues for £700,000 plus Matt Clarke earlier in the summer, played his first 90 minutes of pre-season during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Belgian second division side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.

Asked whether his record Town signing will be fit enough to start against Barnsley in this weekend’s Championship opener, McCarthy said: “We’ll see how he recovers. He has been out for 13 weeks but he’s played well and he is a good player.”

Notably, the Webster was partnered by Berra, 31, in the first half on Saturday and 26-year-old Smith, like the Scotland international left-footed, in the second.

McCarthy admits he has a big decision ahead of him: “You mean having two left-sided centre-backs and I’m only going to play one?

“If that’s the case and Adam gets in the team, which I’m sure he will at some stage, it’ll be the best one who plays.

“One’s not going to be happy about it but they know the score, they’re not daft. They can see there’s one here and they’ve all got to be better, the intensity on them has heightened, hasn’t it?”

The Town boss says Webster has all the attributes to go a long way in the game: “I see Manchester City signing John Stones for £50 million. I’m not suggesting he’s anything like that at the moment, but he will be a really good centre-half because he’s a big fella, he’s got pace, he can handle it, he’s got two good feet. I think he’s got real potential to be a top, top player.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy is pleased that Smith put pen to paper on a new three-year deal, with an option for a further season, last week: “He’s been a stalwart of the team and I’m delighted he’s signed.”

Photo: Action Images

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Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 06:05 - Aug 2

flyingdutchman added 06:16 - Aug 2
How long has it taken him to address that problem so now only chambers to sort out but oh no won't happen

prebbs007 added 06:20 - Aug 2
Now for two full backs. Hahahahaha. Sorry it was all a dream.

jacknrobareblue added 06:29 - Aug 2
Would love to hear Emmanuel and kenlock announced in the starting 11 on Saturday! I love chambers as a captain but he is no full-back and Knudsen lacks pace and awareness, but backing whatever team steps out!! Roll on Saturday COYB!!!

Dissboyitfc added 06:52 - Aug 2
Many of us have moaned about this for too long, better late than never! great news now get in a real right back!

iaintaylorx added 06:54 - Aug 2
Great news!! Conpetition is always good and I do feel that the reason we shedded so many poor goals last season was due to lack of competition. They knew they would be playing week in week out and that pressure wasn't there.

Please now sign a right back and a good one - can't be much worse than Chambers there anyway!

Len_Brennan added 07:11 - Aug 2
You need to have 4 quality centre halves (& 4 quality centre forwards/strikers) in your squad if you are to be genuine prmotion contenders in this league. We've been messing around with the back 4 for a number of years & it has cost us. Luke Chambers was a very decent right-sided centre half & had a good partnership with Tommy Smith before Berra came in, but Mick decided to 'accommodate' him at right back instead of leaving one of those 3 on the bench, like he should have, and brought in a genuine right back. That is the position that still needs to be addressed.
In my opinion, Chambers should be fighting it out with Webster for the right side of the centre half partnership, Digby should be sent on loan for experience & Emmanuel should be back up to an established right back who can help him learn his trade, as opposed to what Chambo can teach him. I think we're pretty much sorted on the left side as Knudsen will be better with a season under his belt & Kenlock looks ready to step in anyway. One signing, a decent right back, & we would have a really strong strong back 4, in front of a solid keeper (Bart) with very good options in all positions.
... then on to midfield.

stevelincsexile added 07:13 - Aug 2
Why does everyone go on about signing two fullbacks let's give Kenlock and Emmanuel a chance first.

TractorCam added 07:15 - Aug 2
Will it be a fair battle though?

Len_Brennan added 07:15 - Aug 2
* very good options to come in for all defensive positions. (that should have read)

Jimmy86 added 07:31 - Aug 2
I think that Smith is slightly better than Berra with the ball at his feet. Didn't go to Charlton, but from what I understand the only pressure Charlton put us under was down to a poor ball from Berra out of the back. Now of we are looking to play out of the back more and improve our play, which will be a god send Berra may struggle

TractorBoy666 added 07:31 - Aug 2
I really liked the look of Webster Saturday, looked so assured on the ball and even picked a pass through at times. Headed most things away that came up to him as well. It's a hard choice to pick one of Smith and Berra but if Berra can be anything like to his best again, I'd sure choose him but Tommy is much more consistent if not better.

Devereuxxx added 07:36 - Aug 2
Realistically Smith is more likely to be dropped, which I don't agree with, but MM has previous form in relegating him to the bench, and perhaps he'll rationalise that Webster needs a more experienced CB next to him.

But, it was a pleasant surprise from reading this article that Berra is only 31. Owing to his regression last season i'd just assumed he was closer to 33/34. Perhaps he's not the right-off some people are making him out to be - big season for him.

Surco72 added 07:49 - Aug 2
I know its another centre back out of position but I would play Smith at left back , I think Knudsen is woeful in positional sense , under a high ball and at stopping crosses coming into the box and will cost us heavily over the season , I appreciate he is getting better but still very average for this league , hopefully he will improve as others are saying

Penguinblue added 07:53 - Aug 2
Usual disingenuous contradictions from McCarthy. Playing the best player or the one right one for the position has never been his fway.
Favoritism and hoofball more like
McCarthy OUT

ArnieM added 07:53 - Aug 2
Digby ( don't forget him!), Smith, Berra, Maiach(spl sorry), all challenging for CB slot. Chambo will always be a right back now until Mick gets one in or Emmanuel steps up to the plate.

We haven't had competition like this across the back four for years.

With emerging academy players in midfield and wingers being brought in who says we can challenge for top 6 ?? I'm very happy to be underdogs....let them underestimate us at their peril .COYBS

floridaboy added 08:00 - Aug 2
Sorry but my money is on Berra and Smith being the central partnership on Saturday

MM will use the excuse Webster was injured for a while and is not quite ready!!

If he has to play either Smith or Berra with Webster it has to be Smith for me. Would try and offload Berra for a decent fee. Not consistent enough for me for a so called international defender

Len_Brennan added 08:08 - Aug 2
Surco : Tommy was tried out as a left back in the days of Delaney at left centre & it was a disaster, far worse than Chambers on the right. I know it was a long time ago & he is more experienced now, but it's still something I would avoid unless injuries & suspensions absolutely demanded it. If Knudsen hasn't come on this season Kenlock definitely deserves his chance in any event.

terryf added 08:22 - Aug 2
Digby and Malacjyk are way off the pace for the Championship. Would personally like to see Kenlock given a chance at left back as he's impressed me everytime I've seen him play. Would imagine Berra and Webster will open against Barnsley. As for midfield we just need another pacy winger as we have the likes of Dozell and Bishop to create in the centre. Stewart has done himself no harm with his pre-season performances, but I just have the feeling MM does not trust him enough. Who knows MM might just play a few people in their best positions!! If us lot can see it why can't he?

cats_whiskers added 08:34 - Aug 2
McCarthy won't start Webster against Barnsley, It's too risky!
As anyone should know by now, McCarthy always thinks "Safety First"
He will set us up to counteract them, rather than put out a side to tear them apart.

Conor Hourihane (ex Ipswich) might have the last laugh

cats_whiskers added 08:41 - Aug 2
Want to see clips of Conor Hourihane shooting ability from "Midfield"

Take note Messrs
Skuse / Hyam / Douglas / Bru

GerkensBeard added 08:56 - Aug 2
Echoing a previous post, if berra can re discover his 2014/2015 form then he should partner Webster and probably is still the best centre half at this level at bullying his opponent and taking him out of the game. But if we're talking about playing the ball out of the back more it has to be Smith. Much better footballer than berra and is an experienced centre half with the amount of games he's played at this level. Webster will certainly be our stalwart now as Mccarthy has to justify his record signing fee.
Personally I'm ok with Chambo at RB. He just needs to work on not getting done by a pacey winger. He gets forward well, scored a couple of vital goals last season from that position and he adds the passion and commitment that everyone of those players is inspired by.
However unless I see a dramatic improvement I'm not happy with Knudsen in the slightest. His attacking side of his game is one of the worst in the league at LB. Can't cross, doesn't really know what to do with the ball when he gets it. Defensively he constantly gets done but as he did last year he seems to have the odd game where he's a world beater. Like others have said I'd love to see Kenlock given a run in the side. He's that mings esque left back. Bombs forward. Technically gifted and has years to work on his defensive side of his game

BackTheBlues added 09:02 - Aug 2
Sensible comments on a TWTD thread - I never thought I'd see the day ;)

4 centre backs = Good news
We have 3 Full Backs with Chambers as a covering Full Back - one more Right back would be a treat!

At least the issue is being addressed!

One other top quality player somewhere in the middle of the pitch - be it midfield or upfront and I think we may just get a real good go at promotion!

Bergholtblue added 09:03 - Aug 2
“If that’s the case and Adam gets in the team, which I’m sure he will at some stage,

He won't be starting Saturday then. Get ready for the same old - same old.

Currie10 added 09:17 - Aug 2
It's all well and good moaning about the defence people but last season we conceded 1 goal / clean sheets in over 30 of the games. Defence wasn't sure a mare as people think.

Then people on here say " why isn't Kenlock playing why isn't Emmanuel " well they conceded 5 vs a non league side last night. Says it all.

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