2016-17 Season Preview- Central DefendersPosted: September 22, 2016
With the new season set to get underway in just 14 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, the right backs and the left backs, today we’ll look at the central defenders.
If there’s one position which could define the 2016-17 season for Brisbane Roar it’s likely to be at centre back where John Aloisi has a range of options at his disposal, most however have questions over them going into the new season.
2015-16 Appearances– 29
2015-16 Goals– 3
Last season was another typical Jade North season, playing in all bar one of Brisbane’s games, providing stability and experience to an otherwise youthful back four.
Defensively last season, North once again rated amongst the league leaders in Duels won, clearances and interceptions, while on the other side of the ball he added a goal-scoring knack to his game finding the net on three occasions, including two on set pieces where Brisbane were stronger last season than in the past.
With question marks next over his partner next to him Jade will once again need to be the leader of the back-line in 2016-17, where regardless of who is next to him will be a younger player be it DeVere, Bowles, Rowles or Crestani.
2015-16 Appearances– 0
While there’s no doubt surrounding the talent of DeVere, there’s a bunch of questions over his durability over the course of a six month season given the long list of injuries that have plagued his career.
Constant knee problems forced a return to Brisbane in January 2015 and after getting himself fit he was played in a post season friendly against Villarreal in May, a game where he would tare his groin off the bone in the opening minutes.
That injury would ultimately see him miss all of last season –aside from two 45 minute cameos in the NYL- and he’s only just returned to first team action in recent weeks in the clash against the BPL select side.
In that game DeVere got through unscathed and looked assured in the role at the back and according to reports played 70 minutes against Perth in Sydney yesterday. It’s likely he will still be regaining sharpness by the time round one rolls around, but he should be ready for his first game in the league since the rescheduled round 18 game against the Victory in April 2014.
As mentioned there’s no questioning his talent when fit as evidenced by his inclusion in the Socceroos setup by Ange Postecoglou after just a handful of games back in March 2015, it’s just a matter of keeping him fit.
If John Aloisi and his coaching staff are able to do so, they’ve got a top central defender at their disposal who could alter the fortunes of the 2016-17 side, if he does however succumb to further setbacks the options as cover look a little bleak.
2015-16 Appearances– 22
2015-16 Goals– 1
After spending most of his first season back in Brisbane either at right back or on the sidelines, last season saw Daniel Bowles given his first taste of regular first team action in central defence and the results were mostly positive.
Adding height to an otherwise short backline, Bowles played in 22 games last season and showing glimpses of the potential to form a strong partnership alongside Jade North at the heart of defence.
Despite that however there were some dips in form throughout the six month campaign and those issues saw Bowles benched midway through the season and the 23 year old struggled to win his spot back as the finals series approached.
Going into the new season it seems likely that Bowles will start on the bench and act as the first defender called in to plug any holes over the back four, with the now fit again Luke DeVere set to partner Jade North in the heart of defence.
Despite the likelihood of not being in the side to start the season, Bowles is likely to play a big part in the 2016-17 side given the injury concerns surrounding DeVere and should see major minutes over the course of the 30 week season.
2015-16 Appearances– 0
Rounding out the quartet of central defenders in the first team squad is 18 year old Kye Rowles, who arrives in Brisbane as a youngster with tremendous promise.
Rowles, who emerged on the scene last year at the U-17 World Cup where his performances helped the Joeys progress to the Round of 16 in Chile.
Since joining Brisbane officially in May, Rowles is yet to play in the first team squad, although he was on the bench in the FFA Cup loss to Perth and has featured on a handful of occasions in the NPL Queensland.
This season is likely to be one of learning for Rowles, who figures to get most of his football in the National Youth League unless an injury crisis necessitates his debut in the A-League.
Rowles is also likely to be one of a few players called away for U-20 World Cup Qualifying when it begins next month in Bahrain.
The likes of Connor O’Toole, Jayden Prasad, Joey Champness, Jayden Prasad and Nicholas D’Agostino have all joined Rowles at various times with the Young Socceroos in recent months and could be involved in qualifying.
Youth- Cameron Crestani
There’s a couple of central defenders in the Young Roar set-up worth mentioning however the best of the group is 20 year old Cameron Crestani, who has been part of the set-up for the past three seasons.
Crestani has been on the fringes of the side for a while now including as an unused substitute in the FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Western Sydney last season although he’s yet to make his debut.
A good all round defender both with and without the ball, Crestani is capable of playing anywhere across the back four and figures to be amongst the first called up from the youth set-up should an injury crisis hit.
Others who are worth mentioning but unlikely to feature this season are Aaron Reardon and mid-season arrival from Western Pride Hayden McHenery, who formed a solid partnership towards the end of the NPL Queensland campaign and are likely to be given the chance to continue that in the National Youth League.
While collectively John Aloisi has a wide range of central defenders to choose from, there are question marks amongst the group. From the injury history of Luke DeVere or the youth of the depth beyond DeVere and North, the questions are there.
There is however no questioning that should everything pan out for the best, Brisbane would have one of the leagues best defensive pairings in the form of North and DeVere. The depth beyond that, similarly to the depth in the wide defensive positions does look a little shaky.