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Burton Albion selection headache for manager Gary Rowett

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 07, 2014

By Tom Sloan

STAKING A CLAIM ... new signing Stuart Beavon has been impressive up front.

STAKING A CLAIM ... new signing Stuart Beavon has been impressive up front.

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GARY Rowett has some big decisions to make this week – but they are decisions any manager would relish.

Burton Albion's boss has already got a side in his mind to face Oxford on Saturday in the curtain-raiser for the League Two season.

He says there is still chance for players to force their way into the reckoning, but with just a few days' training left, that looks unlikely to happen.

One of his biggest headaches is at the back.

Were Damien McCrory fit he would surely be first choice left-back and about to make his 100th appearance for the Brewers.

But with the 24-year-old still recovering from a knee operation, the manager has a decision to make.

George Taft and Callum McFadzean have both impressed during the summer and both will be desperate to start at Oxford.

Taft, a left-footed player, has also appeared at centre-half, giving Rowett even more of a headache.

Does he stick with the tried and tested partnership of skipper Ian Sharps and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff? Or does he bring Taft, who stands 6ft 5in and at 21 is an exciting prospect, into the centre of defence?

It is a tough decision, but I would expect the manager to stick with a partnership which was the bedrock of Albion's bid for promotion last year.

The two players know each other's games inside out after playing together at Shrewsbury before Burton and are arguably League Two's most reliable pairing at the back.

The time will come for Taft, and Rowett could blood him at left-back, giving the side another player over six feet for set pieces at both ends.

And McFadzean is a useful and flexible player to bring off the bench, given that he is accomplished all down the left flank or even on the right of midfield.

Elsewhere, there appear to be shoe-ins in many positions, with Phil Edwards sure to be at right-back, Sharps leading the side from central defence, new signing Jon McLaughlin in goal, John Mousinho and Robbie Weir in central midfield and Lucas Akins out wide.

Does the manager go for two strikers as a statement of intent at the Kassam Stadium? Or will he pick one and add another player in midfield?

Again, he has options, with Adam McGurk able to play in the middle or on either flank and Billy Kee and Dominic Knowles both pushing for a start, presumably alongside Stuart Beavon, if he recovers from a thigh strain.

Whatever combination he comes up with, Rowett has plenty of options and a surfeit of talent will be waiting on the bench.

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