Still Defensive Issues For Trip To West Ham Thursday, 2nd May 2019 15:19
Ralph Hasenhuttl's hopes for a winning end to the season were dealt a blow when he admitted that he will again be missing defenders for the journey up to London.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that both Yoshida and Jannik Vestergaard will again be missing for the trip to the London Stadium and that for Vestergaard the season is over.
“Maya is not able to play,” the Austrian said in his pre-match press conference “Jannik Vestergaard’s season is over, he has a small issue.
“We will change the team a little like we did in the last game; we have a few players who have shown that they want to play and start from the beginning. "
“It’s not necessary to rotate five or six players just because we are safe but for one or two, they will look at this match and the final game as a chance to get in the starting eleven.”
In better news Hasenhuttl was pleased to say that both Mario Lemina and Stuart Armstrong are back to full fitness and could feature.
“The rest are okay, we have no other injured players. Lemina is an option for the weekend and Armstrong too, who didn’t play from the beginning against Bournemouth. It’s not an easy decision for me so let’s have a look.”
The main issue though is the centre of defence, where yet again shoddy defending cost us points last Saturday against Bournemouth, Hasenhuttl is a bit strapped for options here even if he stays with a back four as he started the game against The Cherries.
Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek are the only two fit experienced central defenders and unless the Austrian truly takes a gamble he has no one else who could step in.
I can't understand why Bertrand doesn't move to centre back so that Matt Targett could start in his preferred position. As an aside, the one thing Jack Stephens seems reasonably good at is moving forward with the ball at his feet. If Ralph wants to experiment he could give JS a chance alongside Danny Ings. If he makes errors at the other end of the pitch it shouldn't be so crucial (they don't all break as quickly as Bournemouth) and he is big enough to be the target man we so badly need.
My thoughts too, (halftimeorange)..wasn't it Koeman who played Bertrand in the back line for a few games (?)... and as I recall it seemed to work alright. Ryan B. won't be able to hold his pace as an attacking wing-back forever, and Matt Targett is as ready as he's ever going to be, especially after his input in the Bournemouth game.
I won't be unkind about Jack Stephens, he must have clocked up far more game time than he could have imagined just a year ago, but the Prem. is tough and he's never going to be first choice. A move to an ambitious Championship club will serve him better.
There are a few players for whom "the jury is still out", and Forster wasn't a bad keeper until he lost his form, but if he can keep clean sheets in the remaining games then it will help Ralph make decisions in the summer because we can't continue with 3 top line keepers for another season (if only for the large part of the salary bill they constitute).
It's now a safe time to experiment with a few changes, and the worst that can happen is that we lose two games, but we will still be in the Prem. next season, and it is the ideal time for Ralph to take a look at the "also-rans", and see who has a future in his set-up.
We don't need to play Jack Stephens in the last two games we already know he is crap. Might be worth playing Forster to see what he is like now. Matt Targett should start to. I would play Lemina instead of Prowse.
Time for Jones or Klarer to get some experience in the first team? Both have shown potential in the Under-23s and I doubt that either would be a worse selection than Jack Stephens who has no obvious future at this level.
I agree with you, Highfield. I hear that Klarer could be the real deal and I also remember reading somewhere that St Mirren fans were impressed by Jones. As for the idea of trying Stephens up top, I seem to recollect that Chris Sutton started out as a CB. I think it’s a great idea and just the sort of thing that RH might try. They have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain by such an experiment.
I have the feeling that we may well be well beaten tomorrow, but I like the idea of some experimenting and trying Stephens in a more forward role and giving Klarer etc a go, but not to expect too much.