Muamba, Davies, Lee, Taylor, Gardner, Cohen? Who goes in? We don’t decide.
So here, we are, one day closer to the day that Stuart Holden runs out onto a pitch in a white shirt again. I can just about make it out in the distance, using one of Brian Cox`s massive big telescopes. If he is supposed to be out for up to six months, then today means that he is out for up to five months and thirty days. I`m going to buy me a big countdown clock and stick it on the side of the house. Hopefully it will work better than the one in Trafalgar Square.
Stu tweetd that Evans had phoned him and offered his apologies, which is jolly nice of him. Maybe he can offer to pay us compensation for the fact that we have lost our most influential player. Or offer to build a time machine to go back in time so he doesn`t go in studs up and basically crap all over our season. Maybe he can call us all up and offer his apologises, because, for as much as he has damaged Stu physically, he has damaged our expectations. Who is going to protect us now when Ryan Shawcross comes lumbering through our midfield in a few weeks time, programmed by Tony Pulis to “get ball, get ball, get ball, kill, kill, kill”?
Well, it will probably be Fabrice Muamba, the walking, talking epitome of bloody good fortune. With Holden out, his position of first choice central midfielder is now assured. Of course, he will now have to become the holding midfielder, as the next choice for midfield will be Mark Davies, a more attack minded player than Holden. Muamba plays this kind of role for the Under-21s, and does it well, and it will stop everyone in the north stand from having to duck whenever he gets into a shooting position. As for Davies, he has pulled out of the U-21 squad, nursing his ankle that kept him off the bench for the United game. I`m not normally one to advocate international pull outs, but this time I heartily condone our now most important central midfielder’s actions. Patriotism be screwed. It`s not like it`s the real team anyway.
Another option would be Tamir Cohen, but anyone who has seen his impression of a headless chicken will know that this is very much a last resort proposition. He hasn`t been a regular this or, to be fair, any season and we should be expecting a “thank you, here`s the door” at the end of this one. The most frightening prospect of our problem is that if either Davies or Muamba pick up an injury, Cohen`s the next in line.
Both Lee Chung-Yong or Matty Taylor could be brought in off the wing, but that is more cutting your nose off to spite your face. Matty has never been a central midfielder, and to use Lee in the centre when he is needed urgently on the right is just the plain wrong idea.
Another possibility is to recall Ricardo Gardner off loan. He isn`t yet at full fitness, but does have the capability to take people on. However, this experiment has been tried twice before, once by Allardyce and then by Megson. Both times were a bitter disappointment. Someone has even mooted Gary Cahill going into the holding role once Zat Knight is fit. If that is the case then I suggest everyone takes in tin hats to avoid the multitude of Muamba rockets coming your way, but nowhere near the goal, sometime soon.
We`re in a hole, no doubt about it. And the hole is about three inches deep and twenty six stitches long. It could well leave a permanent scar.
Right, before another journey back to the south, let`s just get the player of the month out of the way. Although it will take a monumental effort from anyone to pip Stu Holden for the player of the year, unless someone scores the winning goal in the last minute of the Cup Final, has absence at least gives someone else a chance. Will it be Gary Cahill who, with man of the match performances against both Villa, courtesy of two goals, and United, courtesy of being a defensive rock, pretty much runs away with it.
Right, it’s 210 miles to London, I`ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and I`m wearing sunglasses. Hit it.