Could this be Town's line-up for Preston

JIM Magilton knows what his starting side will be against Preston on the opening day of the season. DEREK DAVIS gives his thoughts on what the line-up could be.

Derek Davis

JIM Magilton knows what his starting side will be against Preston on the opening day of the season. DEREK DAVIS gives his thoughts on what the line-up could be.

IT is never easy second-guessing Jim Magilton as he is always like to spring a selection surprise but using the clues from Brentford, to Belfast and most lately Brighton, it can be expected that the starting line up against Preston will be attack-minded, while he may look to tweak things a week later away at Burnley.

I don't believe Magilton will stray too much from his preference of playing a settled side after learning in his first season that too many unforced changes can be detrimental.


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But I do feel he has players more suited to the all-out attacking style that served so well at Portman Road last season, and he will look to make Town harder to beat when on the road.

Barring any injuries in the friendly against West Ham on Monday, this is the team I feel will line up at 3pm next Saturday against the Lilywhites.

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Sadly for Shane Supple, I can see Richard Wright starting in goal home and away for the foreseeable future unless he drops some real rickets.

The keeper whose best form, it was enough to win him a promotion medal and his England cap came while he was with the Blues and if he can recapture that he will be worth enough points to at least see town in the play-off places.

Having the right keeper can make or break a defence and he will be vital to Town improving its goals against column.

Proving that two Wrights don't necessarily make a wrong will be David Wright, who should reclaim his place at right-back.

Wright was unfortunate to lose out to Danny Simpson at the back end of last season, but even then went across to the left and did a good job.

David is captain material but it may be that Magilton doesn't consider him a long term regular, so won't hand him the armband and may look to bring in another defender to put pressure on the former Wigan man.

Jaime Peters has been used as makeshift right back in pre-season and has shown he can put in a tackle, covers back quickly and for a little fella does surprisingly well in the air, and of course is a menace going forward.

But his positional sense lets him down and his mistakes have been costly when tested.

Gareth McAuley looks nailed on to be skipper, at least on match day, and a definite for a centre half spot.

Who partners him is less certain. Magilton has made encouraging noises about teenager Tommy Smith but the rookie is understandably prone to errors and may have to bide his time. To that end I can see Alex Bruce claiming his rightful place in the heart of defence and if he can start the season as strongly as he finished the last one and improve even further, become hard to leave out in the near future.

With the possibility of another centre half in the Bobo Balde or Danny Shittu mould being recruited he is under pressure but would thrive on the challenge.

Another Magilton has been raving about is Pim Balkenstein and in the absence of a new signing of the Ben Thatcher ilk, I can see the Dutchman making his league debut at left back, although the Town coaches appreciate it may be a risk given his inexperience.

Although still transfer-listed, Dan Harding remains at the club and has played well when called upon but all things considered is probably still not in Magilton plans for the moment.

Right side of midfield has to be, got to be, surely will be, Jon Walters. Last season's player of the year has missed game-time due to his wife expecting, but should be back ready to star once more. If not then Danny Haynes will be looking he can be as effective from kick off as he is coming on as an impact player.

Midfield will be interesting and this could be where this changes home and away. Against Preston I can see it being Owen Garvan and Tommy Miller, while the more defensively able Veliche Shumulikoski could come in at Burnley.

Alan Quinn will slot in on the left side of midfield cutting in to provide the ammunition for the front two at home, which two from Alan Lee, Pablo Counago and Kevin Lisbie will be an interesting permutation.

Certainly Lisbie next week and I can see Counago getting the nod, even if it is not a bag man little man combination.

It could be Lee gets used away from home with Lisbie or Counago dropping deeper in a five-man midfield.

So the starting XI I believe Magilton will use v Preston would line up like this.

R Wright.

D Wright, McAuley, Bruce, Balkestein.

Walters, Garvan, Miller, Quinn.

Lisbie, Counago

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