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Which Defender Gets Dropped?

According to Martin O'Neill, central defender Martin Laursen 'is back'

The Danish international picked up a hamstring injury after his return from knee problems but has recovered quickly.

Martin O'Neill told the official site: 'He trained yesterday and on Monday, so he's back. We stepped-up the training yesterday and he wouldn't be out there with us if he couldn't do most things. We've got the full week here and that will help him enormously. So, if he's had no reaction to the hamstring injury, I would expect him to be in contention for next Monday.'

Be interesting to see if Laursen gets straight back into the team. It would be VERY hard on Gary Cahill to be dropped, he has been outstanding. Maybe Olof Mellberg should move to right back and have Laursen and Cahill in the centre? Jeez, this management lark is easy!

Our latest poll asks who you'd play in defence assuming Wilfred Bouma as the only left-back option if fit as Jlloyd Samuel hasn't had a look in.




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday March 28 2007

Time: 12:33PM

Your Comments

Why can't I vote for Hughes instead of Bardsley?
Gordonsleftboot
Olof to right full back maybe, allowing us to play Martin Laursen and Gary Cahill as our central defensive pairing.
glensider
Mellberg did well at right back during the early part of the season (notably WHU (a)), Laursen and Ridge looked comfortable in the centre. Ridge for me, concedes too many needless free kicks (levering off strikers when a good 40 yards up field), and Cahill has matured over the past 8 months somewhat. However, a pacey attack would cause havoc at the back for Villa if the defensive pairing was Laursen with Ridge/Cahill. Worth a try would be a back 3 (it work for Big Ron and Brian Little!)? This would also encourage Bardsley to get forward which he doesn't do often enough....
bazzah
I have been a big fan of the mighty Olof for years, but I have to say from what I have seeen this season Laursen is our best central defender on the rare occasions he is fit and Cahill has been outstanding recently, his ball distribution being superior to Ollie's by a long way. So, assuming all our defenders are fit, Laursen and Cahill for me, with Bardsley and Bouma continuing as full backs.
jonah
Yep! I'd go with Olof on the right. Bouma on the left. Then Cahill and Ridgewell in the Middle. Stick Laursen on the bench, after all – you can't expect to just walk into the team, people are saying how class he is, and I think it's been so long since we have seen him as a regular everyone remembers him being better than he was. I would have liked the Bardsley that we had for first few games to come back. Truth is he is making a few mistakes and running alongside people rather than tackling. Maybe he has been spending too much time with Jloyd??
spit-fire
Bazzah, a back 3!!!! for Villa this would be suicide.
spit-fire
I'm all for laursen in the middle with one of the youngsters ridge or gary. mellberg to right back bouma left back.
iomvilla
Mellberg is and ordinary right back that doesn't get forward. I just want to know why Ridgewell has fallen out of favour. He was our best defender up until he was dropped. Personally, I would rest Cahill and give the Ridge a go and maybe Laursen/Melberg alongside him. Definately need someone with a voice in the centre of defence.
myleftfoot
I would play Hughes over Bardsley, and Melberg at right back. Melberg was a shocking right back i thought, really poor distribution and poor going forward. Laursen is really quick, Bazzah, well he was before he got injured, unless that has changed, which i doubt it would have, i don't think there would be a problem with his pace. He's also our best defender so i would bring him in, if not for the next game then fairly soon (i think it would be diffacult to drop Cahill or Melberg after their recent performances). But if Cahill can start to consistantly play as good as he has been, especially against the better teams, i would leave him in. Bouma i think has been our best player of late, and is one of the few certain starters, in my opinion.
liamo1981
I thight ridgewell was quite good this season too. He does give away a few freekicks though. which is probably not the best considering our record at set pieces.
liamo1981
A couple of points. What a disgraceful headline!!! Which defender gets dropped?????? Typical of the negative attitudes that are obviously still hanging around from the Ellis years. I could have understood the question if it had read 'will youth or experience serve Villa better for the remaining games of the season'? All that M'ON has said is that Laursen is in contention for Monday. I think the 'Mellberg for right back' needs knocking on the head immediately. His distribution is poor, he can't cross and his awareness in that position is terrible (excusably so because he is not a full back). I am not sure that Bardsley is better than Hughes though. As we have four players for the two central positions we are going to get several variations for each individual fans preferences. Attempting to fit three of them in at the expense of a loan player, would only weaken the team and would be an obvious fudge of the real issues. I personally would go with Cahill/Mellberg. Since they came together during the Fulham game they have only conceded 1 goal (the fluke against the Arse). So if it ain't broke, don't fix it. However I am not sure the long term is bright with this pairing. Mainly due to Mellbergs distribution and lack of ability in picking up strikers in the box. As a slight contradiction, I think that Laursen is the most dominant of the four centre halfs available. He must be eased back though and not thrown straight into action, otherwise we will probably lose him for the rest of the season. So when we go 4 - 0 up on Monday I would bring on Laursen for Mellberg to ease him back in and let Mellberg know he is not an automatic choice.
voiceoftheholte
Sod of Holte!!! The title is nothing to do wtih Ellis, negativity or anything else. One defender will have to make way for Laursen or Laursen will have to remain on the bench. Just simple maths. And your title wouldn't fit the designs of the sites, they have to be sharp and snappy! I left Hughes out because he hasn't even made the bench recently and to be fair, the poll might have got a little bit too complicated! LOL I do agree that Bardsley hasn't really shown anything that suggests he is a step up from Hughes though and Hughes does have great versatility. I did think he was cruising recently though (why is it you can't use words like cruising, grooming etc without feeling dirty these days!?)
The Fear
Don't forget that J Lloyd can also play at right back , but the fact is we don't have a single decent available right back and we are not going to see Delaney again this season (or ever). The question of who plays at centre half is not the problem , all 4 players are decent at the position , it's who do we suffer at right back ? My choice would be Wilf, Cahill, Ollie,Hughes . Mr Learner - can we please have some dollars for a new right back !
HolteEnder43
Wrong on the Laursen issue Fear old boy. Just because Laursen is in contention, this does not mean he will automatically make the bench or the team. Just ask Luke Moore on that one. And IMHO the title was poor and uncalled for. How about another title? '2 wins in 19 games, who should replace O'Neil'. That is about a positive title as the 'who gets dropped' one. If you want sharp and snappy I suggest using crocodile or pit bull. I thought that you would rise above the levels that I would attribute to the gutter press. For the record and so that people do not get confused, The M'ON example is just that ..... an example. We are moving forward, M'ON is the man to take us forward. But it would help if you maintained the positive mantra that is emanating from the club.
voiceoftheholte
No, not automatically but we have Laursen, Mellberg, Cahill, Ridgewell. Two will play or three if Mellberg goes to right back. Therefore someone will be on the bench, someone will be dropped.

Can't quite believe you are making an issue over a title, but then, if you are the voiceoftheholte, maybe you should start proving it, write a few articles and give us some super titles with it?!?! ;-p Seriously there are things to argue about and this is not one of them.
The Fear
Shame HolteEnder43, as you say we won't see Delaney this season and possibly not again, if he had been able to remain fit I don't think there were many better right backs in the Prem. It is an area that needs looking at, not sure Phil Bardsley is the answer and Hughes is good but not great!
The Fear
The main problem with our defence this year has been the number of times it's changed. For a good solid defence to succeed you need the same players playing in their proven position week in week out. First we lost Laursen, then we had more keepers than Dudley zoo, then Ridge was changed for Cahill, Samuel for Bouma, Bardsley for Hughes. I think MON will be doing major surgery on the defence in the summer and will then try and keep the backbone of the team playing regularly. Laursen is undoubtedly a great player but all his injuries are disruptive and I can’t see him figuring in MON’s plans long term.
Hoss The Villain
Simple choice, and we can't decide, fudge it by playing Mellberg at full back - that's why we don't manage football teams. I'd stick with Cahill and Mellberg. It's all quite close between all the players at the back and we should probably be consistent in our choice, the real debate should centre around WHO WE SHOULD PLAY IN MIDFIELD - that's where we are losing it at the moment.
tarzan
trouble is, for the midfield, we've got to go out and buy I think, at the moment it all but picks itself?
The Fear
I agree with the Voiceoftheholte with regard to Melberg, he hasn't been a good defender for years, he is unable to pick up players on set pieces. I'm not to sure he will be our first choice CB for much longer, it might not be a bad time to give him a rest. I dont agree with you with your rant over the title, i think the fear was just stating the facts, simple.
liamo1981
Dont rush him back in, Ridge and Cahill in the centre, Olly at right back with Boom at left. Put Larse on the bench with Stan and give Davis a start. Luke should also start and rest Gabby to the bench, with his pace in the last 20 mins could be a good tactic.UTV.
morky13villa
Voiceoftheholte, are you on a griffter at the moment?? that's a heavy cycle, bit of a needless rant if you ask me mate ;-). Lets say your probably reading too much into things regarding the headline. It's set to rise a debate! IMHO our defence looks unbalanced. Seems we jacks of all trades and masters of none. They get shiffted around willy nilly during games and there's never any form as they all do the same thing. I'd bring Ridgewell back tomorrow, he's young, ambitious and a future captain if ever I have seen one. He and Cahill play better with each other and I will agree with VOTC on one point which is Mellberg is not performing this season as he has in others. He has always been a good player for us but lacks a pass and hoofs it anywhere which means ball comes back to us too quick. I really liked the look of Bardsley. but it looks like we have managed to train it out of him as per usual and he struggles to get a tackle in early enough before a cross comes in. Serious spending needs doing in the summer. Is MON the man?? I'd like to give him to 10 games into next season, if it aint working then the club needs to change things.
spit-fire
It seems that negativity is the order of the day, with several people agreeing with Fear that the negative approach is the way forward. I bow to the majority, after all this is a democracy. So if you can't beat them, join them. So Mr Fear how about another headline, this time for season tickets. "What pricing structure should there be if we get relegated?" Is that negative enough?? No apologies for the facetiousness. I am no longer surprised by supporters who boo, don't turn up, moan at every opportunity and do their best to run the club down. While we are at it, lets officially change the word 'supporters' to 'customers'. That means you either support the club or you are a customer. If you are a customer and you do not like the product, then go and buy it somewhere else. Stop moaning, we don't need it and don't want it. If you are a supporter, then show some support. I would not class support as asking who should we drop or booing Agbonlahor, as he was last game when he didn't take on a defender. I wouldn't class the 15,000 empty seats against Bolton as support. To right I have got the hump at the moment and I make no excuses. Brummies have got a reputation for moaning and whingeing and as much as some of us try to change that perception, it is hard when so many try to reinforce the stereo typical view. Next thing is we will be saying that Scousers are scallies and that they wear shell suits and rob cars. OK so that bit is true, but you get what I mean. To me it seems that we have a board, management and a squad who are pulling in the same direction. Unfortunately we still have customers, who think they are supporters, pulling in another. It is simple really. If somebody pushes and somebody pulls, you will probably stay in the same position, or you will end up with stronger element having to much strength over the weaker one. If we all push (or pull) in the same direction then we will get to our destination (world domination) much sooner. Rant over. For now.
voiceoftheholte
Maybe it is time to recall a hopefully rejuvenated Aaron Hughes. The right back position is a problem. I thought that Phil Bardsley looked the part in his earlier games, but I have my doubts now as to his long term VP future.
glensider
VOTC, it's all about opinions. I certainly don't think that some of your gripes are wrong, ***** – I agree with a few of them. But just because people have an opinion, it doesn't mean they are moaning. We all realise that something BIG is changing at our club, but you can't look at our current situation and not ask questions can you??? I'm all for loyalty, but I personally don't do blind faith. It's reserved for higher beeings and those are not managers, players and owners of football clubs.
spit-fire
vocieoftheholte, sorry but you are making an argument out of nothing and talking total *****e. If you think I'm a 'customer' and not a supporter, then you can sod right off. FFS, it is a simple headline, you really do seem to be the one with the problem here having a go at people for no good reason, maybe the issue is with you because judging by the above rants you have a chip on your shoulder so big it must be a burden. I guess no one is as good a supporter as you, god bless ya for that but ffs, get a grip man. Either that or I'd suggest, as it is a 'customer' who is obviously very anti-Villa, who writes this site, find yourself another. I'm mystfied if that ***** is aimed at me how you could even think it. Seems to me we are all pushing in the same direction and you are without a real reason to rant, so you nit pick instead.
The Fear
Looks like The Fear is not keen on critisism and must revert to personal abuse if somebody dares question him??
utv-sotc
funny, it looks to me like I'm joining in the 'debate', if you can call it. Amazing, all the issues in the world, or even at Villa, and someone is getting heated because I dare suggest we can only play 2 defenders in the centre and therefore someone will be dropped - or should I say, in a totally pc way, under utilised? What you are saying is everyone else can debate but I've got to agree with voice? What he is saying, imho, is utter tosh, in fact it is so much a non argument I'm amazed.
The Fear
Fear old boy, whay may seem trivial to one person may be something more serious to somebody else. However as site editor I believe that personal abuse is probably uncalled for. I passionately disagree with you but that does not mean I do not know of all the good work that you have done over recent years in support of our club. So I am not and would not question your support, most definitely not. So with reference to chips, talking *****e and being told to 'sod off' I think you need to reign it in.
voiceoftheholte
Stands back in amazement. All has become clear having just checked my sites database. utv-sotc is the same person as voiceoftheholte. Blimey struggling a bit when you have to use another username to stick up for yourself isn't it? utv-sotc cancelled, we don't have multiple usernames as per site rules.
The Fear
That's like forum schizophrenia? however if someone has 2 user names – at least they will always have one friend. The Fear, I've told you before, you're not allowed to have an opinion unless it agrees with certain people. yeah right ;-) Well if it counts for anything, out of all the people I know who can be called negative, I don't think you're one of em Mr Fear. You are well balanced and considerate of other people's opinions. Far more than I can say for some.
spit-fire
Nothing to do with what I've done, some would say sod all and would be perfectly entitled, it is just the total annoyance of a complete non argument taking up time and to be fair, I can't see why you sort to pass a critique in the first place, the debate is about defenders, not if you like a title or argument. I don't see what I said as particularly personal, I see what you were saying as an attempt to belittle - albeit you failed - fans because they don't think like you. Therefore, the sentance was IF that is what you think. I hope you have a smile behind your keyboard, because if this argument and the bringing in of a second username (now deleted) is for real, then I'd really worry. Shall we move on? Or if you can find a site with better titles, seriously, feel free.
The Fear
Getting back to the question, Larse is a gem, dont rush him back. Mr Fear keep on doing the job. I enjoy your posts, dont agree with all of them, who does?
morky13villa
would be awful if you did agree with them all morky, even I don't agree with myself half the time mate! Also, totally agree, short term Laursen should be eased in, not rushed.
The Fear
 

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