Left wing politics

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So who can replace Luka Modric?  At his best, probably no-one. Who will replace Luka Modric? That’s a trickier question. The slight Croatian will be missing and missed against Man United on Saturday as he continues his rehabilitation after the injury suffered against Birmingham a fortnight ago, but the question is, which of the several options open to him will Redknapp take to fill in for him on the left hand side of midfield?

After his injury in the Birmingham match Luka was withdrawn and Peter Crouch came on with Robbie Keane moving in to Modric’s position. Robbie has played in deeper roles before under various managers but has never looked totally convincing. He could though be viewed in some ways as a direct replacement in that Luka has never been asked to spend much time actually out on the left, he appears as often hanging around in the middle as he does in front of Assou-Ekotto plus dropping off the front line is such a big part of Robbie’s game anyway that we might not notice the difference. Putting Keane on the left would give Harry the excuse to play Crouch from the start which has got to be tempting given the size of Evans, Vidic, Ferdinand, Brown and O’Shea, three at least of whom will probably start for United.

Two options are unavailable. Gareth Bale would provide balance and some defensive cover but is also injured. Jamie O’Hara would provide enthusiasm, running and no little skill but he’ll be at Fratton Park, probably taking the place in the Pompey side that Nico Kranjcar has just vacated.

And what about Kranjcar? Croatian, right-footed, skillful and perhaps a bit lightweight – he could be Luka’s stunt double. This is probably the least disruptive option in terms of the effect it’ll have on the rest of the side. He has experience at a high level so should be able to cope with making his debut against quality opposition, Harry knows him well even if the rest of the side don’t.

The most exciting alternative would be to give Giovani Dos Santos a run out. Given our potential frailties in defence, perhaps taking the attack to United in the form of a flying winger on each flank would be a way to keep the pressure off? Giovani is clearly in good form judging by the reports of his Mexico appearances and he put in a good shift at Doncaster showing plenty of skill and inventiveness. It would be unfair to count him out because of any defensive deficiencies, it’s not as Modric himself is exactly Dave Mackay.

Redknapp seems to like Danny Rose and the youngster would certainly give us a bit of pace and bite, from the little we’ve seen of him in the first team he’s certainly not afraid to put his foot in and “earning the right to play” is a much repeated mantra these days of course.

Aaron Lennon has been in top form for us and England. His late goals in the last two league games have been taken with concentration and composure. He’s played on the left many times and would prove a handful to whoever is picked at right back for United. David Bentley could come in on the right, he too had a good game at Doncaster, is a player with something to prove & would improve our delivery at corners and free-kicks. One thing against this plan would be the runaround that Lennon gave Evra in their battles last season, it’d be wrong to forgo the chance of him doing that again.

Who we play may well depend on the overall tactics that Redknapp decides to employ. Are we going to go for them like we did against Liverpool or perhaps play more cautiously and use Lennon and Defoe to hit them on the break. We’ll find out on Saturday afternoon but there’s plenty for Harry to mull over.


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