In the second part of our TT Season Preview, Dominic and Luke discuss the options in the TUFC Midfield, which includes:
Looking back at last season, midfield was frankly a weakness of ours for much of it; in fact truthfully it was a shambles. Nico struggled to get the balance right, and injuries to Luke and Damon really disrupted any harmony in that area – plus captain Courtney had a bit of a mare didn’t he!
Luke Young remains the key man for me in midfield and it was brilliant news to hear he was staying put for another year. Getting him on the ball in dangerous areas and utilising his quality on set pieces should be one of Kevin’s priorities – so should keeping him fit! He’s looked leaner and meaner than ever this pre-season, let’s all hope his time on the treatment table is minimal during 17-18.
Meanwhile Damon will be charged with breaking up attacks as usual, and protecting the defence. At times last season his mobility on the pitch was a big issue, when he wasn’t crocked anyway! He is back fit but it’s hard to believe he’ll play all season without more problems, and the worry is I’m not sure we’ve got a like for like replacement in that position.
The new arrivals in this area do give us options, and Nico has done especially well to coax Jake Gosling down here. Jakes is skilful and inventive on the ball (we have lacked creativity for a while now) and he will give us something extra going forward. I also love the re-signing of Jordan Lee on loan. He is young, fit and full of energy – plus can fill in at right back, but may well start the season on the right wing. A partnership between Jordan and Ryan could be a winner.
That leaves Yan Klukowski. Yan seems like the new Verma; by that I mean somebody who is happy to fill in wherever for the good of the team. It’s a long season and players like that can be very handy – I hope he doesn’t end up at right-back though!
Last mention is for Sam Chaney. He may have played at left-back during pre-season (and done a decent job!); but Sam is definitely an attacking midfielder. It could be a make or break season for him, team-mates will happily rave about his ability – can he make his mark in games – I’m not convinced.
What’s my overall verdict? Mixed feelings really! If injuries do not disrupt things too much (and that’s a big if….) and the Luke/Jake combo creates and chips in with goals, then we can be a match for most teams in this area. The arrival of Lee helps give the team much needed width, but we will most likely miss Sparkes quality on the left. Also Nicho may have to dip into the loan market at some stage, it is a long season after all.
We’re a little light on the ground in my honest opinion. We have some quality and class in there, but whether we’ll have enough strength in-depth remains to be seen and an injury free season could be crucial here.
Luke Young will naturally look to take the centre midfield role another step up this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yan Klukowski slot in alongside him which would really affirm the team’s spine. Through the wings, I expect to see Jake Gosling and Jordan Lee running the ranks, two players I rate highly. Damon “John O’shea” Lathrope naturally provides our versatility and will fill in when needed, a crucial body to have in any team – I’m anxious already about those knees though, over to Gareth Law to keep him fit.
Taking a closer look individually, securing Luke Young for another season was a coup. I wouldn’t have begrudged him a move and I really think we’ll see him in a Football League team for the 18/19 season – one way or another. At 24, he’s probably as developed as we’ll see him now and it’s on to him to consistently perform as well as he can, that’s his next step, outstanding performances for 90 minutes, rather than 70.
I’ll confess to not knowing much about Yan Klukowski, but he has seemed exciting and tricky in pre-season, offering a dimension we missed in that department during the last campaign – plus, what a name! As I mentioned in my previews, I can see Jordan Lee really kicking on this season, we’re a good match for him and it’s up to him to develop at the rate he did last season.
Jake Gosling is a familiar face and knows the westcountry well. I can see him settling in and offering some real class on the ball, again, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him in League 2 the following season. With those four and Damon, we do look dangerously light of legs – hopefully a few of those defenders will be prepared to step forward.
Next up – The Attackers (featuring some guy called Fallon…)
Dominic and Luke – TT