Season Preview: Central DefendersPosted: September 25, 2013
In the lead-up to season 9 of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the Brisbane Roar squad position by position examining the clubs options- starting today were taking a look at the central defenders.
The Starters: Matt Smith.
The captain had an injury disrupted year missing last third of the season including the clubs ACL qualifier with Buriram, and the 2013 finals series. Before that he saw his central defensive partner chop and change with the ineffective Jurman and the young Donachie splitting time in the role next to Smith.
Smith, 30, played in 14 games last season for a total of 1260 minutes of game time, with no goals or assists. Injury permitting, this season should prove a more successful one for the skipper, who will start the season alongside North and will be desperate to move back into Socceroos calculations with reports circulating that he was going to be selected for the March’s 2-2 draw in Sydney against Oman. His pre-season form has been impressive keeping clean sheets against Heart and Victory.
The Starter: Jade North.
One of Mulvey’s first signings as Roar boss, Jade North came in last season at a crucial role and quickly replaced Smith as the rock at the back for Brisbane, with Donachie being his predominant partner towards the end of the season. North is a vastly experienced defending spending time with two other A-League clubs along with clubs in Korea, Norway and Japan and amassing 41 appearances for the Socceroos over his career.
North, 31 arrived in the January transfer window from relegated J-League side Consadole Sapporo and took some time to regain fitness after the end of the Japanese season. He would eventually make his debut at home to Central Coast and make 11 appearances in total -8 league, 2 final, 1 ACL- totalling just over 1000 minutes of game-time. He’s been predominantly a central defender in the pre-season to date, however in an exercise to examine the possibility and versatility he was tried as a central midfielder in the Central Coast game.
The back-up: James Donachie.
James rose to prominence in the final round of the 2011-12 season when after the premiers plate was lost, then boss Ange Postecoglou handed the youngster his debut in the final M1 derby where he put in an assured performance. This past season the 20 year old made 19 appearances -18 start, 1 sub- last season -16 league, 2 final, 1 ACL- and formed solid partnerships with Matt Smith and latterly Jade North. His solid form earned him a spot in Paul Okon’s u/20 World Cup squad in Turkey where he played in one of the games. His pre-season form has been strong alongside both Smith and North, however he’ll start the year on the outside looking in but would not look out of place in the line-up.
Youth: Lachlan Jackson.
Jackson has spent the past two seasons in the NYL squad and has blossomed into a solid defender at that level. Jackson made 7 starts last season for John Sime’s youth side with an additional 4 substitute appearances and the youngster can expect even more football this season. At the recent fans forum; Mulvey hinted that the youngster could even see A-League football this season, and that he would train with the first team squad for experience.