Yesterday I wrote about the need for less draws and more wins away from home and so what did we go and do yesterday! As it turns out though this was not one of those occasions where we turned what should have been three points into one, it was one where we had to be grateful for what we got – one point was probably more than we deserved.
However, before commenting too much on the game itself, it seems to me that the main talking point to come out of it was just where does this leave us in terms of team selection for Tuesday at Plymouth? Paul Quinn and Steve McPhail both left the pitch at Blackpool with injuries which could see them miss out at Home Park and, apparently, others within the squad (e.g. Ledley and Burke) are still suffering the after effects of a bug that has been going through the camp in the last few days. Add to that the fact that we are without Kevin McNaughton, Ricky Scimeca and, probably, Mark Kennedy on Tuesday and that Gabor Gyepes missed out at Blackpool because of a knock received while playing for Hungary in midweek and, our squad, which is already too light in certain areas, starts to look positively threadbare!
Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the worst bit of injury news yet and that is the hamstring injury that Ross McCormack picked up at Bloomfield Road. Given the amount of time hamstring injuries normally take to recover from, it means that, in all likelihood, we are looking at the Newcastle match on 13 September at the very earliest for a possible comeback from him.
On the face of it, there would appear to be a silver lining to this particular cloud, but, although there has not been any official confirmation of this yet, it looks like any moves for new players were dependent on more of our squad moving out to other clubs be it permanently or on loan. With the odds on McCormack being one of those players now being reduced because of his injury, it probably means that we need Joe Ledley to be sold in the next fortnight or so to bring in the sort of funding needed to get us into a situation where we could have the big squad that the pundits keep on telling us necessary to get promoted from this division.
Dave Jones told us a few weeks ago that he wanted three more players – with the sale of Paul Parry (who, whatever you thought of him, was the sort of versatile player that teams with small squads need), that figure went up to four, but with seven members of our first team squad carrying short to medium term injuries and another two getting over illness, I just wonder how many more additions our manager would want this morning?
Barring more sales or the sort of financial input from Malaya that seems some way off yet even if it were to happen, it’s beginning to look increasingly like we are going to rely on the loan system for the foreseeable future. Even if we had everyone in the squad fully fit, I would still say that central midfield in particular is an area where we needed immediate strengthening, but with the injury situation we have the need for a loanee in there has become more urgent than that!
So let’s see how willing Peter Ridsdale is to loosen the purse strings a little to allow us to bring in loan reinforcements – the sort of injuries our missing players have means that it would only have to be for a month. Ideally, we could bring in a midfielder and a striker because the very raw, Josh Magennis apart, we are down to just two players in that department – an injury or suspension to either Chopra or Bothroyd in the next few weeks would leave us right up the Swanee without a paddle!
So bearing in mind all of the above, was a 1-1 draw at Blackpool that bad a result? It probably wasn’t, but, it’s worrying to hear our manager talking of tiredness so early in the season and there was an ominous feel to the way the game panned out as we were, once again, outgunned in central midfield (sadly, I am not convinced that getting our injured players back will change things in that department), our defence creaked and groaned, the ball didn’t stick up front and we had to rely on our keeper to bail us out.
David Marshall’s fine display only serves to reinforce the good impression he has made so far and you would like to think that we might just have solved the long running goalkeeping problem we have had. It’s also encouraging to see Michael Chopra score again and it would appear that Peter Whittingham continued to show the sort of determination seen in our first two games. It was also interesting to see Adam Matthews come on instead of Quinn despite the fact that Miguel Comminges was also on the bench. Does this mean that Matthews can expect a first league start on Tuesday if Quinn is ruled out I wonder – if he does, then I can’t help thinking that it will come a lot sooner than Dave Jones had planned, but we really seem to be don’t to the bare bones at the moment, is our Chairman prepared to do something about that?
*Originally published on 16 August 2009.