2016-17 Preview- Left Full-BackPosted: September 21, 2016
With the new season set to get underway in just 16 days time, our annual season preview series is here and over the next two weeks we’ll take an in depth look at the 2016-17 tea. Previously we’ve covered the Goalkeepers and the right backs, today we’ll look at the left full-backs.
The left back spot has been a positional battle to watch in years gone by with both Corey Brown and Shane Stefanutto vying for selection on the left side of the defence. With Stefanutto’s retirement at the end of last season however, the spot is now Corey’s to lose with just a pair of untried youngsters waiting in the wings, neither of which is likely to be ready for a first team debut.
2015-16 Appearances- 15
2015-16 Goals- 1
Much in the way last year was a massive one for Jack Hingert in terms of nailing down his position in the side, this year is the time for Corey Brown to do the same following the retirement of Shane Stefanutto.
Towards the end of last season Brown showed the potential do so with some solid displays at left back in the finals run in, and John Aloisi no doubt will be hoping to see that continue and improve over the upcoming season.
In the tradition of Brisbane full-backs, Brown’s strengths have always been when the side has possession and he’s fitted in nicely to the teams attacking patterns down the left hand side.
Defensively however is where he’s been prone to mistakes with opposition wingers finding themselves free on far too regular occurrence along with general defensive errors, something which will need to be rained in this season with no genuine alternatives.
In previous years, Corey has benefited from the presence of Shane Stefanutto within the playing group to offer experience and competition for his place, but this season with Stefanutto now retired from playing the competition is more limited with only youngsters Connor O’Toole and Matt Schmidt chasing him for the spot.
Over the pre-season Brown has been an ever-present playing in both the FFA Cup loss and the trial game against the BPL side, and in those two games seemed to be defensively solid and contributing to the attack.
The nominal back-up to Corey Brown is 19 year old Connor O’Toole who arrives in Brisbane following a stint in the Adelaide United youth team, which won Conference A in last seasons National Youth League before losing the Grand Final to Sydney FC.
Prior to his time with Adelaide, the Sydney born left back was enrolled in the Seiritsu Football Academy, a football school in Japan aimed at developing youth players for senior football.
O’Toole, who arrived on a trial with the Roar towards the end of the last season, has spent the winter as part of the Young Roar side in the NPL Queensland where he made seven appearances.
In the limited time I’ve seen O’Toole play, he’s struggled to get forward when in possession and have an impact on the game from an attacking point of view although defensively he seems to be reasonably sound.
Im not sure Connor is totally ready for first team football this campaign –a fact which only further highlights the importance of Brown on the 2016-17 side- and his football could well come in the form of the National Youth League where he would be competing with Matt Schmidt for playing time.
Perhaps a pointed to O’Toole’s readiness for a first team berth, he is yet to appear in a pre-season clash for the Roar, although he has been part of junior national camps and squads in recent times. Fellow youngster Matthew Schmidt was named on the bench for the game against the BPL select side, although he was an unused substitute on that occasion.
It’s worth noting that while Jack Hingert has played a few games at left-back since arriving in Brisbane including one last season, it’s highly unlikely he would be deployed on the left side this season due to the lack of alternatives on the right.
Matt Schmidt In terms of the youth side, O’Toole’s competition in that side is Matthew Schmidt, a left back whose been part of the youth side for the past two seasons. After making the A-League substitute bench against Newcastle back in 2015, a serious knee injury interrupted his progress last year and he’s still making up for lost time.
It’s likely that Schmidt will continue that progress as part of the National Youth League this upcoming season where he will likely split time with O’Toole over the 10 round competition. It’s worth noting that since O’Toole joined the Young Roar set-up in May with an eye on joining the senior side they’ve both split time in the side, with Schmidt making 18 appearances –substitutes included- to O’Toole’s 7.
Similarly the right of defence, Corey Brown’s fitness and form on the left will be pivotal to the 2016-17 side. Much like Hingert, Brown is capable of nailing down the spot and it’s likely he will end up doing so given the apparent lack of competition, hopefully he can alleviate the defensive errors of the past.