Vital Leicester answers our questions ahead of our match on Saturday at the Walkers Stadium.
1. After winning promotion to the Championship, how do you think you’ll fare this year? What’s the expectations amongst the fans this season?
Personally I think a lower-table finish is on the cards, and we should avoid relegation this time around. We have a much better manager and an improved first team for this season compared to 07/08, so hopefully things should work out better. A mid-table finish would be big progress, but maybe a bit out of reach. We’ll see.
2. How is your squad shaping up, is it strong enough in all areas or does your manager need to make some more signings?
A new striker is a necessity. Whilst Steve Howard and Matty Fryatt should be very capable as a strike duo this season, should one of them get injured we’ve got very little in the way of cover. Paul Dickov is next in line, but unfortunately can’t hack it at this level anymore. DJ Campbell is massively out of favour, and Dany N’Guessan is not a natural forward.
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
In terms of strengths, our defence has been fantastic for the past couple of seasons. Jack Hobbs and Aleksander Tunchev could prove to be one of the toughest centre back pairings the Championship has to offer this year, with Wayne Brown and the young Michael Morrison close behind to back them up. I have my concerns with the wing back positions though, I’m not totally convinced with the signing of Robbie Neilson from Hearts.
Weaknesses? Goal-scoring at Championship level has always been a problem for us. Fryatt should be a rejuvinated player this time around though, with much better fitness levels and an improved side around him. Him and Howard’s partnership is very important to us this year.
4. Which player(s) should we watch out for on Saturday?
Richie Wellens has so far impressed in pre-season, so I’d probably pick him. Looks like a very classy player, with the ability to keep the ship steady and get the side playing football.
5. What are your thoughts ahead of the game? Are you confident of an opening day win against the Swans?
I think it has draw written all iver it to be honest, although you always have that first match optimism somwhere deep down. We’re certainly good enough to get a win, it’s the Championship after all. It’s not a bad time to be playing you though really with Scotland now departed and Bodde injured. All we can hope is that the team settle down quickly and don’t panic by resorting to long ball football.
6. Where do you think the Swans will finish in the Championship this season? Can Paulo Sousa deliver the goods for us?
He seemed to be doing fine at QPR until he had his dispute which eventually led to his sacking. Certainly vastly experienced on the playing side of things, with an impressive club CV as well as his international roots. I think you’ve got the right man, yes. I’m predicting a mid-table finish for Swansea, which would be considered a success I’d have thought following the lack of media support.
7. Has your pre-season period been a successful one in terms of friendly matches?
Well we haven’t lost, which is always a positive to take from things. Aside from a 4-0 drubbing of Shrewsbury however, we’ve really struggled for goals unsurprisingly. Fryatt came off the bench for his first taste of pre-season action against Real Valladolid, and subsequently scored the winner. We need him.
8. What’s your transfer activity been like this Summer, have you bought and sold many players?
In terms of departures, we’ve basically just shipped off some of our deadwood. Patrick Kisnorbo was the most notable release, but with four other strong centre backs ahead of him it was the right deicision. Leeds have subsequently snapped him up, and he’ll do well there.
Inbound we’ve made several signings. In goal, Chris Weale has signed after being frustrated with the lack of chances he got at Bristol City. At the back, Wayne Brown and Jack Hobbs’ loan moves have been made permanent, whlst Robbie Neilson has joined from Hearts. I’m not convinced with that one, however. In midfield we’ve signed Wellens from Doncaster, which looks like a great signing, along with Dany N’Guessan from Lincoln.
9. How are you likely to line up on Saturday?
It’ll no doubt be a 4-4-2, Pearson’s favoured lineup. Fryat is doubtful, so it looks like N’Guessan may get the shout. The midfield is a bit provisional, as we’re all still unsure as to whether Oakley will move out to the right to accommodate Andy King.
Morrison – Hobbs – Brown – Mattock
Oakley – King – Wellens – Dyer
Howard – N’Guessan
Thanks to Joe Brewin for answering our questions. Our answers to Vital Leicester’s questions can be viewed here
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