Kevin Wilkin likes 4-4-2, but whether he did or not, he’ll have to play it at Dartford today, it seems.
With Dean Keates out and Jay Harris doubtful, he’d struggle to find a trio of central midfielder even if he tried, an ironic state of affairs as the middle of the pitch has been the area we’ve felt most secure in for the last year.
From wondering which of Keates, Harris and Joe Clarke would miss out in the engine room, we now find ourselves with possibly only one of them standing and the prospect, although hardly a daunting one, of Robbie Evans stepping into the breach.
There’s a sense amongst fans that it’s time to give Evans his head, but it’ll be tough for him to burst past such an established trio: this could be his chance to start the season and grasp the opportunity with both hands. Wilkin strikes me as a man who’s unlikely to penalise a man in form, and might see the chance to rest Keates’ legs as a priority anyway if we’re to get the best out of the skipper through the course of the season.
In theory Evans offers a little bit of everything: the spirit of Harris, the legs of Clarke and a developing ability to keep shifting the ball around as Keates does. This Frankenstein’s monster of midfield attributes is potentially more than the sum of his part and it would be interesting to see what would happen if he hits the ground running at the start of the season.
My worry is that Harris might start to succumb to injuries. The niggling problem which has hampered him over the last couple of seasons seems so out of place because the battling Scouser simply doesn’t fit comfortably into the injury-prone category. Certainly he’s missed more games through suspension than injury over his career (if he is out today at least he won’t be able to challenge the spectacular run of yellows he started last season with!) but his form has sometimes been hampered by his fitness, and we can’t afford to allow that state of affairs to persist.
Harris is a fine midfielder for this level, so I wouldn’t like to see a risk taken with his fitness today. I certainly blanch at the thought of his injury setting the tone for his season.