Chris Quinn wrote for us last year and has kindly said he is going to do a few things again in 2011. I know he is working on an article for next week – but he has written this about the disappointing news that Scott Dann will be out for longer than we thought.
So, it seems our chant isn’t quite as accurate as we thought.
“Always believe in Scott Dann. He’s got the power to know, he’s indestructible,” was the cry from Blues fans.
However, when he pulled up on the stroke of half-time at West Ham on Tuesday, most Blues fans feared the worst. And today, those fears were confirmed.
“Skysports.com understands Birmingham defender Scott Dann is set to miss the rest of the season through injury,” the report reads. It turns out Dann, who has being playing with a hamstring niggle for a while now, needs surgery after aggravating the injury whilst chasing back from a corner.
The original recovery time is mooted to be around four month, meaning a return to training as the season ends. But now that Dann is missing, where will the club be as he plans his return.
Last year, Blues finished a superb 9th in the Premier League and a lot of this was down to the brilliant defensive line of Hart (now Foster), Carr, Dann, Johnson and Ridgewell. They kept 11 clean sheets in the league last season and Dann was imperious. He, along with Johnson, headed, cleared and threw himself at every ball.
These performances have attracted the interest of Everton, and supposedly, Manchester United. A silver lining to this injury is that it is likely to put off any potential suitors at least in January, maybe even the summer. Although, whether he stays with Blues during the summer could come down to what division we are in.
Our current position in the table means that we can’t discount any possibilities, including relegation. With our full-strength defence in place for the rest of the season, I’d have had no worries about going down. But now a lot, including tomorrow’s big derby against Villa, could depend on how replacements step into the fray.
Martin Jiranek has a fantastic pedigree if he is to be considered as the straight replacement for Dann. Signed from Spartak Moscow for a nominal fee in the summer (around £400k), he hasn’t had a Premier League chance yet, appearing only in the early Carling Cup ties. The former Spartak captain has won 31 caps for the Czech Republic and played in the Champions League with Moscow, and at six-foot three-inches is of the same build as Dann. Jiranek’s deal is over in the summer and he will see this as the ideal opportunity to impress McLeish and secure another contract. He was tidy last weekend against Millwall and seems to have the experience to be able to step into the breach against Villa and not be fazed.
Another option available to McLeish is to switch Liam Ridgewell back into his favoured centre-half position and bring David Murphy into left-back. When Dann went off on Tuesday, it was indeed Murphy who came on and had a decent half. He bombed on nicely and put in two beautiful crosses and also went close with a header, although he may have felt he should of got it on target. The defensive aspect of his game has been questioned in the past, notably his positioning. Personally, I have frequently seen him tuck too far inside whilst the winger hugs the touchline, giving him too much work to do when he goes out wide. This deficiency was exposed again on Tuesday. Scott Parker slipped the ball inside of him and I felt he could have slid and cleared the ball. However, he let it run and from the resulting Spector cross, Carlton Cole scuffed home.
The injury to such a key player could force McLeish and Carson Yeung into the transfer market to search for cover. If Ridge is shifted inside then a left-back on loan is a necessity. If Jiranek gets the nod, then Ridgewell is the original cover for centre-back, but more cover could be required in case another injury occurs.
As a fan, it would be easy to bemoan our lack of luck at losing Dann, but we have been pretty fortunate with injuries the past 18 months and we were probably due an injury.
With an eye on tomorrow’s fixture, I would think McLeish will draft in Murphy, who he obviously rates, and shift Ridgewell inside. But if he was to play Jiranek, we should not be too worried. When he moved to Spartak his first fixture was against arch rivals Locomotiv Moscow, the Russian capital’s version of tomorrow’s game.
(Durr, republished, I didn’t spot the spelling mistake in the title!)