Rafa Benitez now has 26 fit players for the game tomorrow at Leeds United, so there will be eight fit players who are ready to play who will not make the 18 man match-day squad.
The only injury we have in the squad at the moment is Rolando Aarons with his long term ACL knee injury he picked up in training last week – and that will keep him out of the side at least through the end of this season.
Alan Judge – Brentford play-maker
When Rafa was quizzed about the upcoming transfer market in his press conference yesterday afternoon this is some of what he said:
“We are doing our job trying to find the right players.” “We have a good squad of 26 players available now, so the reality is we don’t need too many.”
“What we have to do is to be sure we sign the players in the positions that we need and use the players that we have, because they are quite good.”
We are certainly not short of players and therefore if we bring players in during January it will be for quality rather than to shore up the numbers.
When we look at the squad Rafa has assembled and look for positions that need strengthening we see two positions that stand out – they are left back and central midfield.
Paul Dummett is holding down the left back spot this season so far and the local lad has done well.
Rafa brought in Achraf Lazaar in the summer from Palermo, but he’s only made two appearances for the side and it’s therefore difficult to judge how good a left back he is.
We are well covered at right back with Vurnon Anita and DeAndre Yedlin fighting it out for that starting position with Jesus Gamez as back-up, but left back could be strengthened.
One left back we have been linked with since last summer is 23 year-old Charlie Taylor of Leeds United, but there’s just no way Garry Monk would let Taylor leave in January.
The other position that needs strengthening is central midfield and that has been shown up by the possibility we may lose Jonjo Shelvey for 5 games if his misconduct charge by the FA is upheld after his private hearing.
We definitely need more creativity in central midfield and one player who could provide that is Brentford’s Alan Judge.
However, Alan doesn’t return to light training until early January and Rafa may want to wait until the summer for Judge to prove he has fully recovered from his broken right leg.
But it’s clear in January that Rafa will want to bring in some class rather than players to simply further increase the size of the squad.
The other player Rafa may want to sign at that time is on-loan Chelsea winger Christian Atsu, although that’s far from certain and he may want to wait until the summer and look in general at what’s needed in the squad at that time.
Which positions do you think need strengthening in January?