In the second part of our TT Season Preview, Dominic Roman and Matty Hayward discuss the options in TUFC’s 2018-19 midfield, which means the following players:
At the moment I’m expecting a midfield three of Samir Nabi, Ryan Dickson and Asa Hall in a 3-5-2 formation, unless new signing Chris Regis gets the nod instead.
Samir Nabi has not impressed TT contributors much in pre-season and we need him to get up to speed very soon. The talent would appear to be there, but he hasn’t actually played many games in his career to prove it. Creativity in the mid has been lacking for so long, I am really hoping he’s the central diamond that we crave. Once match sharpness and fitness is achieved then maybe we’ll get the best out of Samir.
The experienced Asa Hall should be comfortable in the division and try to dictate action with his quality and know-how. Hall used to play close to the strikers by all accounts, but early indications are that he’ll be patrolling nearer to our defence at United. He is a key man for Owers that is certain and someone who the other players will look to for guidance. Meanwhile the skilful Ryan Dickson will try to get forward more and create chances for our strikers, once up to speed Ryan could (and should) be one of our best players this season.
Our latest signing Chris Regis left Port Vale at the end of last season after apparently falling out with the management. He’ll get a clean slate here though and could add some bite to our midfield. Playing Hall, Dickson and Nabi makes me fear that teams will find holes defensively and over-run us at times with stronger and more aggressive players – so Regis could find a place in the XI sooner rather than later.
On the wing Jason Banton comes down to the NLS after playing league football for a number of years, most notably of course for Argyle. Attitude problems have been mentioned, so has his talent. The PSF performances haven’t inspired confidence that he’ll find his mojo at Plainmoor and he could quickly become a perennial substitute, especially if Owers sticks with his tried and trusted 3-5-2.
That leaves Bobson Bawling and Jamie Reid. Bobson could find a place a wing-back or winger under Owers, whilst Reidy may be used as a winger if we switch formations around. Jamie would prefer to play upfront as we all know; however he will put in a shift when required and gets unfair stick from the Yellow Army at times for struggling out of position. Overall I am concerned about the balance of the midfield contingent; the talent may be present but is the tenacity, commitment and energy there for the long season ahead? I am not sure.
DR RATING: 6.5/10
Again, it’s hard to know whether we’ll play a conventional midfield 4, a three, or even a two in front of a back 5. I first wrote this piece the day before we signed Chris Regis, and I said I thought we’d need at least one more midfielder to provide competition for places and extra legs, especially with Hall and Dickson not being spring chickens. Regis seems to tick the boxes of being young and athletic – I’m looking forward to seeing him.
That said, I think a midfield two of Asa Hall and Ryan Dickson would be one of the best in the league. I’ve been especially impressed by Dickson who has superb feet and seems decent from set pieces. He also seems to be the only player in the squad with any real creative talent. Meanwhile, Hall is less technically gifted and loses possession too often but he battles hard and provides further leadership in the middle.
The other central option – Samir Nabi – has impressed me much less. I think he looks slow and immobile. Especially if we’re to play a midfield three, I’d want Owers to dip into the transfer market and improve his options.
Out wide, we’ve still got Reidy who can reluctantly play either side. Hoping to take the weight of width off Reidy’s shoulders are Jason Banton and Bobson Bawling. Both rejects from fellow-relegation sufferers, Woking, the two wide men don’t excite me for the season ahead. Banton comes with a reputation of a bad attitude and a lot of talent, but I’ve seen evidence of neither so far. I’ve not seen Bawling play in pre-season but I get a similar impression from him too. Neither signings help our creativity problem for me.