Positional Sense: Fullbacks

Posted by Chris Rann

Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesLuke Shaw requires another good game as Stoke favour attacking his flank.

The next in the series looking at positions Saints might want to strengthen focuses on the fullback area. This position is a strange one for Saints. Over the course of the season, young stars Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw proved themselves to be more than competent playing on either flank. In fact, they both will have turned the heads of 'bigger' clubs with their performances, but in backup to them Saints look considerably weak.

Right Back

Clyne made the right back position his own, and with potential understudies Frazer Richardson and Danny Butterfield both released at the end of the season, there is a serious question over the position should Clyne suffer an injury. For me, neither Richardson nor Butterfield were ideal replacements in the Premier League anyway, great lower league servants that they were. In fact, even when Clyne missed games, Nigel Adkins preferred to use either Jack Cork or Maya Yoshida in the position, neither of which is an ideal replacement, both from a strengthening at fullback point of view and a weakening of the centre. Jack Stephens has yet to feature for the first team, but with his ability to play at right back as well as centre half, and MoPo's policy of using his youth team resources, it could be time for him to step up and challenge Clyne.

Left Back

Luke Shaw, as was long predicted for him, burst on to the scene this season and looked like he had been playing at the top level for years, his introduction and Cork's return to the side coincided with an upturn in form. Again though, a problem arises when Shaw misses out (worryingly often it would seem). Danny Fox is the natural replacement in the squad, but after the poor start to the season, Fox became this year's scapegoat among the home support. Towards the end of the season Fox actually performed competently for me, before a reckless tackle against West Brom ended his campaign on a sour note.

With Fox seemingly unpopular and Shaw suffering a few knocks, it looks like another area where Saints lack depth. Having said that, Yoshida has again been an option on the left, and in Matt Targett, Saints have another left back who is being predicted to follow in the footsteps of messrs Bridge, Bale and now Shaw himself and hit the big time. Vegard Forren is a predominantly left footed defender too so perhaps he can finally get a game should injuries scupper team selection!

Verdict: Strengthen the fullback position? Yes. Both Shaw and Clyne need both decent backup and someone to keep the positions competitive.

Keep the faith.

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