Assessing the £4M defenders

In this article, I assess the chepeast defenders (£4.0m only) that FPL managers can include in their squads. They are ranked in terms of their current ownership (as of the 3rd of August).

The main purpose of this article is to identify potential starters and the circumstances that could cause a certain player to start.

Martin Kelly (Crystal Palace): 25% owned

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Martin Kelly is by far the most selected £4M defender, possibly because he scored more points than all of the other defenders who currently cost £4M last season.

It is unclear whether he is the third-choice or fourth-choice CB; it depends on whether Hodgson prefers him to Dann or not.

He has also played as a RB in the past, but Hodgson recently claimed that Palace only have one RB at the club at the moment, indicating that he does not consider Kelly as adequate backup for Ward at RB.

However, with Tomkins still injured, and Sakho missing from the squad in Crystal Palace’s last friendly – potentially due to an injury setback, it can be assumed that unless Palace sign a centre-back (they are linked with Gary Cahill) then they will start the season with Dann and Kelly as their CB pairing.

In other words, the benefit of Kelly is that both of Palace’s main CBs (Tomkins and Sakho) are quite injury prone, so Kelly could get a decent number of minutes as a result of covering for one of them.

Jack Simpson (Bournemouth): 8.2% owned

Jack Simpson started the final four games for Bournemouth last season. As a CB, his competition is Ake, Cook, Mepham and possibly Ofoborh if Eddie Howe decides to deploy him there. Bournemouth’s main CB pairing is Ake – Cook.

Bournemouth sometimes play with 3 CBs, however it seems that he is the fourth choice CB behind the main pairing and Mepham. Simpson was also sent off in Bournemouth’s friendly against Girona.

Winston Reid (West Ham): 5.5% owned

Winston Reid missed the entirety of last season due to injury. He was once an important player for West Ham, but it will be very difficult for him to break into the main CB pairing of Balbuena and Diop.

It is hard to tell whether he is preferred to Ogbonna as the third choice CB.

John Lundstram (Sheffield United): 4.9% owned

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John Lundstram is an interesting prospect.

Firstly, FPL Towers decided to list him as a defender despite the fact that according to TransferMarkt, he has literally never played a game in defence in his entire career. In fact, he is actually a CM who can also play at DM.

Last season, Lundstram only started 5 out of 46 games in the Championship and had 5 appearances as a substitute. He was an unused substitute on 12 occassions.

However, Lundstram has been heavily involved in pre-season, and Chris Wilder had the following to say about him:

We feel John Lundstram has a big part to play and he’s a young athletic player. This pre season he’s put himself right in our thoughts.

Source

Despite these comments, many Sheffield United fans have expressed their doubts about Lundstram being a regular starter. Sheffield United generally play with 3 CMs, and they currently have 5 to choose from (Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Freeman and Osborn).

Perhaps it is worth erring on the side of caution here and saying that Lundstram will probably not be a regular starter, but could start certain games for tactical reasons and may get the odd appearance point here and there as a result of coming on as a substitute.

Richard Stearman (Sheffield United): 3.2% owned

Richard Stearman is unlikely to deputize for Sheffield United. Sheffield United’s main CB trio is made up of O’Connell, Egan and Basham.

The addition of Jagielka means that he can potentially cover for any of the CBs, but due to his age, he may be more suited to covering the middle, however it is possible that he would also deputize at RCB over Stearman.

Meanwhile, Bryan and Stevens can also cover the LCB position.

This means that Stearman is pretty low in the pecking order, and would require several injuries to key men as well as backups in order to play.

(Note: Thanks to Reddit user MosF94 for the correction)

Grant Hanley (Norwich City): 2.8% owned

Grant Hanley is Norwich’s captain, but not a regular starter. Norwich’s main CB pairing is Godfrey & Zimmerman, with Klose being the third-choice CB. This renders Hanley as the fourth-choice CB.

However, Zimmerman appears to be out until the end of August with an injury, and Klose has also dealt with injuries in pre-season, but is predicted to return shortly, meaning it is unlikely that Hanley will start for much longer.

Hanley should start GW 1 if Klose is not fit, but that is not of much use since it is against Liverpool at Anfield.

Ben Gibson (Burnley): 2.4% owned

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Ben Gibson is an interesting option because he has been touted as being promoted to a starter if Tarkowski ends up replacing Maguire at Leicester.

If that move does not end up coming to fruition, then Gibson is either the third choice CB (behind the main pairing of Mee & Tarkowski) or fourth choice CB (behind the main pairing as well as Kevin Long).

Gibson started in Burnley’s final friendly, keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Parma. He started alongside Mee, but both Tarkowski and Long missed out with injury niggles so no significant conclusions can be drawn from there.

Sebastian Prödl (Watford): 1.9% owned

Formerly a starter for Watford, Prödl now competes with Kabasele, Dawson, Cathcart, Mariappa and possibly even Janmaat when Watford play with 3 CBs.

In other words, he is arguably Watford’s fifth-choice CB when they line up with 2 CBs, and the 6th choice CB when Watford play with 3 CBs.

Max Kilman (Wolves): 1.6% owned

Max Kilman is the third choice LB / LWB behind Jonny and Vinagre. He has also played as a CB for Wolves’ U-23’s, meaning he is possibly Wolves’ 5th choice CB after Boly, Coady, Vallejo and Bennett.

Ben Johnson (West Ham): 1.4% owned

Ben Johnson competes with Fredericks and veteran Zabaleta for West Ham’s RB position.

Despite having impressed in pre-season, Johnson lost his place in the final friendly to Fredericks who had just returned from an injury. If pre-season lineups are anything to go with (perhaps they are not), then it is likely that Johnson could be preferred to Zabaleta (who is retiring at the end of this season) this season as the back-up RB.

In other words, Johnson is either West Ham’s 2nd choice or 3rd choice RB.

Diego Rico (Bournemouth): 3.7% owned

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Diego Rico is the fourth most expensive player ever signed by Eddie Howe.

A LB by trade, he has recently told Bournemouth’s official website that it has taken some time for him to adapt and that he is currently learning English.

Recently, Bournemouth signed LB Lloyd Kelly for a fee of £13M – however, Lloyd Kelly – who is expected to be ahead of Rico in the pecking order – suffered an ankle injury.

This does not necessarily mean that Diego Rico will be a starter, because Charlie Daniels recently returned from injury, and both Adam Smith and Ake can also play at LB.

Having said that, Rico started in Bournemouth’s final friendly, keeping a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Lyon. For what it’s worth, Rico also took corners in this game (though it is important to include that Fraser didn’t play).

It is worth noting that Bournemouth played two friendlies in the space of two days, and starting players were split amongst the two friendlies (for example, Lerma and Fraser started in the first friendly, while King and Wilson started in the second).

However, the defence in the second friendly (Rico, Cook, Ake, Smith) contains a number of well-established players at Bournemouth, so there is a possibility that Rico starts in GW 1 at least, but he still has to compete with the vastly experienced Charlie Daniels.

Kayne Ramsay (Southampton): 1.3% owned

Kayne Ramsay is a versatile fullback who Hassenhuttl has mentioned can play on both sides.

This means that Ramsay is probably the third choice RB (behind Valery and Cedric) and perhaps also the third choice LB (behind Bertrand and McQueen).

Ramsay did not make the squad for Southampton’s final friendly of the season, with Cedric being preferred on the bench.

Marc Navarro (Watford): 0.5% owned

RB Marc Navarro has been loaned out to Leganes for the season. Nothing to see here, folks.

Philip Heise (Norwich City): 0.3% owned

Philip Heise is the backup LB to Jamal Lewis. Norwich signed him in January 2019.

Daniel Farke has also remarked that Heise can play as an LW.

Verdict

(Note – these categorizations do not take injuries to first-eleven options into account)

Nailed on options: None

Irregular Starters: Lundstram

Direct Backups: Heise

Possible Direct Backups: Kelly, Simpson, Reid, Rico, Gibson

Third Choice or worse: Hanley, Prödl, Kilman, Johnson, Ramsay, Stearman

Loaned out: Navarro

keep-calm-and-thanks-for-reading-7

 

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