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Scunthorpe v Burton starting XI prediction

James Murray provides his Scunthorpe United starting lineup for the upcoming match against in-form Burton Albion this afternoon.

Well, here we are again, heading into yet another fixture thinking “this one is a must-win” – but this time out against the Brewers – it really does seem that way. Once more, several teams in and around the Iron in League One go head-to-head this weekend, meaning that Andy Dawson’s side could well be dragged even closer to the relegation zone. The Iron are now odds on to be relegated and you can check out a great source for all the latest betting offers at the link provided.

Over the past few weeks, there have been several discussions on social media and in the stands at Glanford Park, about which team should be starting for United and in what system.

So, here it goes. I have selected what I think is the best possible lineup for the Iron, with the help of Scunthorpe Telegraph’s team selector.

James Murray’s Scunthorpe team to face Burton (Scunthorpe Telegraph)

The system

Right, I know I have probably already lost many people’s interest by selecting a 3-5-2 formation, but hear me out on this one. I, personally, would like to see Scunthorpe play 4-4-2, because that has been a profitable formation for the club throughout the years, but we just do not have the players available right now for it. That has been proven over the past few weeks, with them employing that very system, whether it be in a diamond under Stuart McCall or with ‘wide-men’ under Andy Dawson – but it simply is not working. The current Iron squad has not been built for either of those formations and, consequently, the results have reflected the performances on the pitch. Therefore, something has to change.

So, why 3-5-2? Well, it takes wingers out of the picture – and when I say wingers, I guess I mean Adam Hammill – our only recognised first-team natural wide-man. That isn’t anything against him, it’s purely because you can’t just play a guy on the left wing and nobody on the other, leaving that side of the field open and your full-back completely exposed. Whereas, a 3-5-2 affords the wing-backs more freedom to get forward, knowing that they have another defender behind them. It also provides a natural outlet for balls out to the wing, which is where the only threat has been coming from for United in recent weeks.

This system also adds stability to a defence that has started to leak goals again, with the inclusion of another centre-back. Is that going to solve all of our problems? Probably not. But at least there will be another body in there, to try and stop the side from conceding more sloppy goals.

The lineup

Goalkeeper: Jak Alnwick 

What choice do we have? Unfortunately, Alnwick hasn’t been at his best recently and I feel as though that has hampered the defence. That being said, on his day, he can be a good ‘keeper. He just needs to work with his defenders more and help them eliminate those silly mistakes that have crept in once again.

Centre-back: Rory McArdle

He may not be the most popular player with many Iron fans, but the captain of the club has to be on the pitch, particularly when things are going badly. McArdle is a better defender than Burgess and had a decent game at Shrewsbury last week, so he gets the nod for me.

Centre-back: Byron Webster

Some of you are probably thinking that I must be mad after his miserable performance against Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago. Admittedly, that day Webster did look like he was playing with rollerblades on for most of the game, but he was arguably our best player against the Shrews last time out. It did seem as though he and McArdle could form a half-decent partnership together so, hopefully, that can continue this afternoon.

Centre-back: Harrison McGahey

For me, this lad is our best defender. McGahey looks comfortable on the ball and, unlike the rest of our centre-halves, he has a bit of pace – which means that this formation would suit him down to the ground. Coming on for Tony McMahon at Shrewsbury, he certainly didn’t let himself down and proved that he is capable of slotting in anywhere along the backline. McGahey is the future of the central defence, so it makes sense to play him as much as possible.

Right wing-back: Levi Sutton

Levi is fairly comfortable playing in this position and I feel as though he could do a decent job after the unfortunate injury to McMahon. In a similar formation on New Years Day at Peterborough, Sutton had a solid game at wing-back, with his willingness to get forward providing an option out wide and his love for a tackle making him a decent defender.

Left wing-back: Cameron Borthwick-Jackson 

I feel as though Scunthorpe have really missed the on-loan full-back, as he was just hitting some real form before being struck down through injury for the last few months. For me, Borthwick-Jackson is far superior at both ends of the field to Tom Pearce and should come straight back into the lineup. He has also had some of his best games this season at wing-back.

Central midfield: James Perch 

If there were other options available, then perhaps I would pick one of them over Perch – but there isn’t. The experienced midfielder is capable of producing much more than he currently is and he really needs to start showing it. In this formation, I would like to see him sit in front of the defence and break up play, allowing the more forward-thinking player’s freedom to attack.

Central midfield: Funso Ojo

First name on the team sheet. In recent weeks, I have heard people moaning about Ojo’s performances, saying that he isn’t performing to his best ability. If that is you, then I am here to tell you that you are wrong. He is still doing the same things he was a year ago, it’s just that everyone around him is not on his level and there’s very little he can do in such a rigid team that severely lacks quality. This formation, whilst it will not add quality, would provide options on the wing and an extra attacking body in front of the Belgian to work with.

Attacking midfielder: George Thomas

Thomas has to play at CAM. It hasn’t been the best season for the loanee, but he has shown promise in spells. This formation would mean that he doesn’t have to drift out to the wing and that he can instead look to either get on the ball in dangerous areas or make runs beyond the strikers, in order to have an impact on the game in and around the box. He could be the difference in the right system.

Striker: Lee Novak

Novak hasn’t been great recently, but the service to him has been poor. That is partly down to him playing up front with Kyle Wooton, as the pair are very similar and look to do practically the same job. However, Novak has the experience and has found the net several times this season, having found himself in the right position at key moments. He gets the nod this week, but he needs to start having more of an impact on games.

Striker: Olufela Olomola 

This may seem a bit desperate, but as I said earlier, Scunthorpe have to change things in order to get results. Despite his minutes being heavily restricted in the first-team, Olomola has looked bright and offers something different than the rest of the strikers. He has also found the net on a number of occasions for the U-23’s – so what do we have to lose?

There it is, my team for what is a massive game against Burton. I may be completely wrong here and you may not agree with my selections, but something has to change in order for the Iron to start picking up results.

Let us know in the comments on here or on social media what your lineup would be for the big game. 


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Written by James Murray

Aspiring journalist and Scunthorpe United fan studying at the London South Bank University.

2 Comments

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    • I find it hard to disagree with you there. Is the team I have selected good enough? Probably not. Is it the best team I think we could name? I think so. To be honest, it’s just a sign of how far we have fallen.

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Episode 23 – Iron stop the rot at Salop

Episode 24 – Gone for a Burton