Date: 18th February 2011 at 3:14pm
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How Sam Rickett’s injury could make Paul Robinson indispensible. Who would have thought?

Afternoon folks. There is only one story today, but in terms of magnitude, it is a story that could make or break our season.

I refer, of course, to the news that the injury that required Sam Ricketts to be stretchered off on Wednesday turned up to be a ruptured achilles, and it will see him out for up to six months. Or, in other words, the beginning of next season.

This is undoubtedly a massive blow to the player, who had forced his way ahead of Gretar Steinsson this season and had put in some good displays. He also spoke last week of how much he was looking forward to the forthcoming Wales – England game, a game that he will now have to watch from the sidelines. Of course, there is always an upside and that is that whoever plays for England on the left that night will now be up against a League One player.

Where does this leave the team though? The most obvious replacement is Steinsson, but he is still out with the injury that has constricted his season. David Wheater has been known to play at right back for Middlesbrough, but with Zat Knight injured and no viable central defence back up, he will have to stay alongside Gary Cahill.

There has been an idea mooted that Fabrice Muamba could be called on as an emergency central defender to allow Wheater to shuffle across. The idea of Fabrice starting a game in his normal position currently sends a shiver down my spine, so the thought of him lining up in an unfamiliar position makes me want to reach for the alcohol to steady my nerves. The form that he has lost is currently part of a police investigation, as it’s so well hidden it needs sniffer dogs and the outside help of a Sherlock Holmes to track it down. To play him in central defence could rock his confidence to the extent that he may never get it back.

Lee Chung-Yong could be asked to move backwards to help out, but as we have no other right wingers and much of what we do that is good is produced from the Korean, that is also a non starter. And if he moves back, that means that sometime during a game, either Taylor or Petrov will be asked to play there, and we all know how well that tends to turn out.

It therefore leaves only one viable alternative. Current fans favourite and all round red faced fella, Paul Robinson, moved across from the left to the right on Wednesday night and acquitted himself well. He has the experience to hold the position until Steinsson is fit enough, and it is becoming more commonplace for teams to play players on the wrong side. Not that that has worked with out left wingers on the right.

Another facet of Robinson’s game, his willingness to get forward, will be helped by this. Playing on the left, he has to be aware of the sometime lack of urgency from Taylor or Petrov to get back. Lee does this to a greater extent.

Of course, there is the possibility of him picking up more cards, playing on his weaker side, but that is something that we have got used to in his eighteen months with the club, so there is no reason why that should change just because he is playing on the left.

The good thing about the left side of defence is we have more left backs than we know what to do with. Marcos Alonso, who by all accounts did his reputation some good on Wednesday, is the natural choice, and it is about time that the manager gave some of his younger charges their head. Added onto this the end of Jlloyd Samuel’s injury woe as well as the Ghost of Ricardo Gardner, and there will come a point where we have four fully(?) fit left backs to choose from.

It’s just a shame that we haven’t at the moment.

Right kids, I’m on a midnight flit down to the smoke, so expect a Fulham preview some time tomorrow afternoon. It is simply all go at the moment, isn’t it?

 

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