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Rodger Faces Major Selection Headache

By: Richard Lord
Date: 24/02/2004

A selection headache faces Graham Rodger as he prepares his side for what will be a tough encounter against Luton Town. The caretaker manager will doubtless have an eye on the weekend fixture against Barnsley as well.

Although Rodger has previously stated that he will take each game as it comes, his threadbare squad will be pushed to the limit over the next two weeks, which sees them play four times.

The imminent suspension of Aidan Davison for the red card he received against Brighton has forced Rodger to look for a replacement keeper on loan; otherwise it will be young Andy Pettinger between the sticks on Saturday.

If a loan keeper is drafted into the side however, then the rules stipulate that only four loans can be on the field at any one time - but five can be named in the squad of 16.

But Rodger's first problem is who to play at right back. McDermott and Crowe both look set to miss out against Luton, so there may be a chance for Ward or Parker on Tuesday night.

With Mike Edwards suspended, Rodger could continue to play Crane and Ford together at the back, but Armstrong could be utilised alongside Crane with Ford reverting to the problematic right back slot.

However, Coldicott is a doubt and Nick Daws' loan needs renewing, so Armstrong could be played in the centre of midfield.

Anderson and Campbell are expected to continue in their respective roles with Rankin and any one from Mansaram, Thorpe, Onuora, Rowan and Soames partnering him, although Thorpe will be the favourite.

IF there are no new injury worries after the game, it is likely that one of Thorpe and Rankin will have to miss out in the game against Barnsley if a keeper is added to the squad.

And considering Rankin will have point to prove against his present employers, Thorpe could be dropped - but would start if Pettinger deputises in goal.

What is certain is that Rodger has a lot on his plate - more than an average manager would expect. Is he being asked of too much? Only time will tell, but a victory against Luton will give the board more time to consider their options.

A defeat, however, could signal the search for a fresh manager, but the board must be sure that whomever they approach, it shouldn't be out of panic. They might already know whom they want at the club.

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