With Nigel’s recent comments that the squad will be seriously shaken up this summer and Tom Glick’s more recent, “no signings, no season tickets” pledge, there is no doubt there are several members of the current squad who are now “at risk”.
With only 6 weeks and 8 games left for several players to “re-apply” for their jobs, here’s our verdict.
Stephen Bywater – Bywater is a player who has always split opinion and has undoubtably had some good times with the Rams. His madcap/mental persona also endears him to a certain type of Rams fan. However if we get back to pure goalkeeping, Bywater was outed as being monumentally average by the emergence of Frank Fielding. When was the last time he got man of the match or even made a save you didn’t expect him to? I can’t remember either.
Verdict- With below average performance and a couple fo disciplinary issues to boot (modern art and his bonkers Twitter Da Vinci code), its time to get the Rat out.
Dean Leacock – This year has turned into a disaster for Leacock. For the past three years, we have been waiting for him to be fully fit and become the Ferdinand-lite many people think he could be. However, after a long run in the team, he never quite imposed himself to the point where he was shuffled to right-back at the City Ground…and we all know what happened there. Despite a decent performance in the return fixture, he is clearly not part of the plans.
Verdict – Has to go for his own good. Clough doesn’t seem keen and he’s gone backwards this season. We need a permanent partner for Barker and it isn’t Leacock.
Gareth Roberts – Robbo is at risk of becoming a Barton, Kenna, Edworthy character – a veteran full-back with a year too long. However, his form has picked up recently and he’s looking like the man we thought we’d signed.
Verdict – Keep him as first choice, sign a young full-back for cover and take over long term.
Stephen Pearson – Pearo is another who has been hampered by injuries this season and often played when not 100% fit. Not a fans favourite and like Jay-Mac (was) and Leacock (is), still not established after 3-4 years.
Verdict – Shock verdict – keep him! One of the few left sided players we have, reasonably versatile and can break quickly. Has had some better games recently and worth having in the squad for another year.
Jake Buxton – Bucko has been really unlucky with injuries this season and as a result, hasn’t contributed at all. We could have done with his no-nonsense defending on numerous occasions and had he been fit, I’m sure he’d have played a role. He hasn’t been offered a new contact yet and with Clough looking to move the squad forward, he may be surplus.
Verdict- Give him another year. He doesn’t earn a fortune and is good cover who is happy to be here. When we get younger players coming through, he can sign for Notts County.
Paul Green – The fact he is at risk shows what a poor season Greenie has had. Hasn’t been helped by being played out of position on several occasions and as a result, hasn’t had the chance to put some form together. Despite good reports for Ireland, rarely looks better than his opponent in the Championship.
Verdict – should improve once Savage has gone and he can get a run in the side, However, if someone make a decent bid on the back of his Ireland form, I wouldn’t be opposed to taking it.
Chris Porter – Another who has had a shocking season and again not helped by injuries. There was too much put on Ports’ shoulders during January when he wasn’t quite ready and he has looked a shell of a man ever since. A likeable bloke so it’s a shame to see him struggling.
Verdict – Out of contact and behind Ball and Boulding in the pecking order, judging by the last two squads. Sorry Ports but time to get your coat.
Theo Robinson –Instant hero after his winner in the six-pointer at Bramall Lane but some are already grumbling about his poor touch and finishing. The counter argument is (contrast this to Ports) that he has great nuisance value and is at least arriving in the box to get on the end of things.
Verdict – to use the modern phrase “he is what he is”. He’s a young, inexpensive striker who is likely to be an impact player and is different to what we have. He isn’t intended to be the main striker who will solve our problems. Sign him on!