Liam Hoden’s Big Match Preview: Biggest selection dilemma is how to support Andy Williams?

Paul Dickov
Paul Dickov

“I’m fairly clear on what my team will be. There are just one or two questions to be answered but that’s what you want.”

Paul Dickov insisted last weekend he had a starting XI close to concrete in his mind for the opening day clash with Bury.

Luke McCullough

Luke McCullough

And the questions he will have been pondering this week are pretty obvious, and mainly concern personnel.

The battle for the right back spot is a straight shootout between Mitchell Lund and Luke McCullough.

Lund played the full 90 minutes of the final friendly with Wolves in the position but was given a tough time.

McCullough has looked very solid - barring an encounter with Sunderland’s ridiculously rapid Jeremain Lens – but is still adapting to the new role.

The Northern Ireland international looks to have the edge but it is likely to be a close call.

There are still questions to be answered by new striker Andy Williams – especially after the pre-season scoring form of Nathan Tyson.

Williams is the striker Dickov wanted, one confident and calm in front of goal. But him being part of the Rovers side remains a work in progress as both he and his team mates search for cohesion.

Does the project continue in competitive action or will Dickov take Williams out of the firing line?

It is likely Williams will play but how he is supported is another matter.

David Flitcroft favours a 4-4-2 formation at Bury, and lined his side up that way in the win over Preston North End last weekend.

It is clear the formation Dickov will employ, at least in the early days of the season, will be based around a 4-4-2 system.

Whether that is a standard 4-4-2, a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-4-1-1 will largely be dictated by personnel available.

Neither Richard Chaplow nor Dany N’Guessan appear fully match fit, reducing the chances of Dickov opting for a player in behind a striker.

He could play Paul Keegan deep, opening the door for the much-lauded Harry Middleton to take his place alongside Richie Wellens in a central two.

Dickov has said he is desperate not to hamper the development of his young players.

So can he leave Middleton out after the summer he has had?

Possible: Stuckmann, McCullough, Butler, Jones, Taylor-Sinclair, Keegan, Coppinger, Wellens, Middleton, Forrester, Williams.

Prediction: Rovers 2 Bury 1