Itâ€™s back to the domestic scene on Saturday for our returning national treasures as we take on Man United at WHL in a 5:30 ko. A year ago it appeared that Ramos & Poyet still had the whole squad to train with during international breaks, this time round though Bond & Jordan wouldâ€™ve had little to do between giving David Bentley lifts to the shops and helping Ledley out with his Wordsearch.
With a good many of the team jetting in from distance Harry will probably not be fully aware of their fitness for duty until well into Friday. The initial concern will be the extent of Sebastien Bassongâ€™s injury, his knock to the knee sustained for Cameroon on Saturday kept him out of Wednesdayâ€™s game against Gabon so, not for the first time this season, predicting the centre half pairing poses more questions than answers. Has Ledley had long enough to recover from feeling his groin against Birmingham? If not then we could be down to Corluka and Huddlestone, two of the slowest turning constructions since Windy Millerâ€™s windmill after the sails were used to smash down the town hall doors in the Trumpton Riots.
Still, given that weâ€™re not getting carried away by our good start, itâ€™s essentially a â€˜nothing to loseâ€™ game for us and even with a makeshift defence we should have enough, with Lennon, Defoe and Palacios all in rampaging mood, to cause them problems. Their midfield looks identikit & one-dimensional without you know who, their back five have injury problems and goalscoring hasnâ€™t been straightforward thus far. Berbatwat has weighed in with one in five games to date; Iâ€™m sure heâ€™s keeping the Manchester pigeons informed as to whether that means heâ€™s been in the â€œright state of mindâ€ or not.
Apart from in defence we have issues in midfield with Modric out for another month at least and Jenas apparently disappearing off the face of the earth. If Big Tom does move in to the back four then who replaces him? A tricky one. How about up front? Will Defoe be left to face another battle with people twice his size on his own and no step ladder or will Crouchy be allowed a go with Robbie dropping to the left? How about Kranjcar,Â Giovani or even Rose? The fixture has finished in a draw in the last two seasons and Harryâ€™s got a lot of decisions to make to help us ensure at least as good a result again.
The England performance plus our recent form should put everyone in a good mood at the start, the restricted away attendance will help and if the injuries arenâ€™t too bad, we play to our potential and donâ€™t make any stupid mistakes then thereâ€™s no reason why we shouldnâ€™t all still be sitting in the pub on Saturday evening continuing to wonder â€œwhere did it all go right?â€.
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