Staking A Claim

Garry Monk has used twenty-two players since taking over as manager, with Dominic Iorfa the man to have played the most minutes under him so far. You could say our form under Monk has been up and down, with five wins, five draws and three losses from thirteen games in the Championship. In my opinion, this presents players with the opportunity to stake a claim.

I think several players will have given Monk food for thought as we prepare for what will be a big test against Brentford. Skipper Tom Lees has missed a big chunk of the action this season due to injury but got the nod against Charlton in the absence of the suspended Julian Borner.

I thought Lees put in a solid performance, and while we did concede, it will be a difficult decision for Monk to drop him, especially as we secured our first win since we beat Stoke on the 22nd of October. Cameron Dawson has started the last two games, and while he hasn’t had much to do, he’s performed admirably. While I think Monk will stick with him, there will always be the temptation to recall Keiren Westwood to the starting eleven.

Kadeem Harris didn’t get much joy down the right at The Valley, but it’s undoubtedly a position they’ll consider using him again throughout the season. It presented Fernando with Forestieri the opportunity to impress from the start on the left, and while he didn’t necessarily stand out, if his knee injury isn’t too severe, we could see him given another opportunity to prove his worth.

Now, Wednesday may not go with a two-striker set up next time out, with Monk comfortable switching between systems. However, Atdhe Nuhiu came into the starting eleven against Charlton, worked hard, and got himself on the scoresheet. While it’s likely we will match Brentford up formation wise on Saturday; the Kosovan international will have given Monk food for thought regarding both himself and how we will play against Thomas Frank’s men.

I’m a Massimo Luongo fan, but since arriving at the club, he’s been in and out of the side. When he plays, he brings energy to the team, and after replacing Sam Hutchinson against Charlton, he looked good once again. Adam Reach also made an appearance from the bench, playing on his natural side, and it was his cross which Nuhiu headed home to end any hopes of a comeback from Lee Bowyer’s side.

I think it’s essential for players to be pushing each other for places in the team, as it will keep everyone on their toes and therefore force them to stay on their game. With competition in a lot of areas on the pitch, and a manager who has made changes to personnel and formation, it bodes well for the future. And it gives Monk a pleasant headache to have when it comes to picking his team.

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