Nick Sellers with part 2 of his look at who might be departing Colney for the last time this summer. Today he looks at the runners and riders in defence and midfield…
Stick? We`ve already covered Drury, which is a special case due to his time with the club. Zak Whitbread has done well to get over injury problems to become a regular member of the back four this term. Daniel Ayala has also struggled with fitness but has still shown flashes of solidarity in his games. Another player thwarted by injuries is Elliot Ward, who returned against Swansea a few weeks back and has generally done well since. Russell Martin has shown versatility playing at both right back and centre half in addition to being yet another Canary who has stepped up amicably from the lower leagues.
Twist? As mentioned in the Drury piece, 2 clean sheets is a poor statistic no matter how many goals are going in for you at the other end. There have been plenty of injury problems which can`t necessarily be helped, but how much longer can the medical staff keep treating some of them before they become too stretched?
Verdict – I think we`ll see the bulk of the changes made in these positions during the summer. Russell Martin is safe, but I`m not so confident about the chances of Elliot Ward who did himself no favours against Liverpool. Daniel Ayala will stay as he`s only just been signed and has youth on his side. Whitbread is a bit of a question mark, but I think he`ll be used as backup. Leon Barnett, who we haven`t mentioned so far, will either go out on loan or be moved on.
Prediction – Ward, Whitbread, Barnett to leave
Stick? There seems to be much more balance in the side when Fox is in the starting line-up. The former Man United midfielder is a seamless fit in the top division and is one of the best passers in the entire squad. Welsh international Andrew Crofts hasn`t started much but has been dependable when coming on. Simon Lappin`s appearances have become all too rare, but he`s another reliable and experienced hand to call upon. Korey Smith has been out on loan, but has still impressed in Barnsley colours. Ditto Tom Adeyemi, who has enjoyed a solid season in spite of an infamous moment at Anfield while playing for Oldham.
Twist? Are Adeyemi and Smith good enough for the Premiership? Lappin has barely featured, Crofts seems to be out of favour too. Fox has featured a lot, but his contract is up for renewal and he may be allowed to go in order to have more money available for squad improvement.
Verdict – I think the King of Spain will almost definitely be released, thus breaking my heart into several pieces. Adeyemi and Smith may have just shown enough promise to be retained by the club, but will likely wind up on loan again. Crofts might be ok, but I can see him also going out on loan if he can`t get back in the first team. David Fox, despite the uncertainty surrounding his contract, should`ve done more than enough to secure a renewal.
Prediction – Lappin and possibly Crofts to leave.
Final part will look at the attack and the much-discussed Morison question…