Lee Townsend reviews those members of the Swindon Town squad who haven’t been near the starting XI or even the matchday squad in recent months. He asks whether we can expect to see any of these missing players return before the end of the campaign?
Yes, it’s true. Swindon are top of npower League Two and there are many reasons given for this fantastic achievement. Perhaps the key contributing reason behind this has been the squad strength in depth that Paolo Di Canio has assembled since his arrival in May last year.
Unfortunately, having such a large squad has also received criticism. Ibrahim Atiku left without making a single appearance for the club and Alberto Comazzi made the journey from Italy only to be released in January after four League appearances.
With this said, there are many in the squad but not on the radar for selection as Di Canio has a largely settled team. So will the missing players return for first team action before the end of the campaign?
no.1 – Mattia Lanzano – Missing since 8th October 2011
Oh dear. Oh dear. Now Swindon’s third choice keeper, Lanzano was the fifth summer signing from Paolo Di Canio. A young 20 year old who was expected to grow into the role of Swindon number one, he made his debut against Rotherham and conceded two goals in a 3-2 win. No big deal, right?
Wrong. He made a huge error away against Burton Albion and followed that up by conceding three against a Hereford side that couldn’t score in a brothel before meeting us. He did make a good save against Southend at home though. Anyone else remember that but me?
Reports circulated in November that his contract was mutually cancelled. He then decided to stay until January to find another club. Yea, my calendar has passed that too. His, clearly hasn’t…
Deserves a chance? Not a chance! With Foderingham first choice and Smith his deputy, Lanzano won’t get a look in until there is a major disaster. I doubt we’ll see Lanzano play for Swindon again.
no.11 – Etienne Esajas – Missing since 17th December 2011
The Dutch winger trialled for two weeks in pre-season, a good decision to check him out first seeing that he was apparently a bit injury prone. After a few reasonable roles against Supermarine and Cirencester we signed him on a two year contract one morning….that afternoon….oh yes, injured.
Ok, maybe that wasn’t his fault. But it wasn’t a good start. His performance away against Dagenham & Redbridge was nothing to brag about either. My main memory was the pure frustration of his team mates because his service and delivery was just never good enough.
He exited the team, but did make a small comeback. A substitute appearance in the JPT against Wimbledon made him look like a world beater. A huge curling dipping long range shot crashed against the crossbar and would have easily beaten Matt Ritchie’s drive against Gillingham for goal of the season. He followed that up with an assist for Ferry against Huddersfield.
The comeback didn’t last long and ended with a second half substitute against Bristol Rovers. A game which resulted in that now infamous Di Canio explosion. Thereafter, he was an unnamed substitute against Morecambe and hasn’t been seen since.
Deserves a chance? Tricky, but ultimately no. Although he has some good skills in his locker, the arrival of Rooney, and use of De Vita on the bench adding to Ritchie on the right looks like there’s no way back in for Esajas.
no.15 – Nathan Thompson – Missing since 4th October 2011
Swindon’s young right back was never going to get many games having to compete with Paul Caddis this season.
Thompson started away at Cheltenham, but surprisingly found himself playing right midfield, however he failed to counter Kaid Mohammed and looked completely lost; leading to his substitution after 56 minutes.
Afterwards he also replaced Alberto Comazzi against Dagenham & Redbridge, pushing Caddis to an unfamiliar centre back position. Was it any coincidence that Caddis gave a penalty away later in the game? I think not…
His final appearance came in the JPT game at Exeter, playing the final 15 minutes in-place of Alessandro Cibocchi, but hasn’t made the pitch since; despite being an unused substitute in the FA Cup matches against Huddersfield and Colchester.
Deserves a chance? Not in my book I’m afraid. It says a lot that with Paul Caddis injured and missing the Cheltenham game, Nathan Thompson was overlooked in favour of Alan McCormack – playing in another unfamiliar position – and the Town youngster didn’t even make the bench as cover.
no.21 – Lander Gabilondo – Missing since 28th January 2012
Wow…I have no idea where to start here. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I think a lot of this guy. He’s currently in his second disappearing act. His first was a mystery to myself. He looked good against Oxford in August, brilliant away to Bristol City, but out of his depth on the left against Southampton, which turned out to be Lander’s last game for quite some time.
He eventually came back with strong performances against Southend (JPT) and at Port Vale, but the potential shown was never really fulfilled. 17 appearances this season – the last as a substitute against Leicester City at the end of January – and it looks as though he won’t survive the summer as he contract is coming to an end. I may even shed a tear.
Deserves a chance? Personally, I think he should be the second choice left midfielder. I rate him over De Vita in that position and with Rooney cup-tied for Wembley, it looks as though Gabilondo is looking for a bench place if anything at all! I hope I’m wrong. So for me, yes. I think he does deserve a chance…so help me find Gabilondo…
no.26 – Phil Smith – Missing since 08th November 2011
Town’s longest serving player has made only one appearance since Wesley Foderingham’s arrival, albeit that was a great performance in the penalty shootout against Wimbledon when Smith saved three penalties. It appears Phil Smith is once again the second choice keeper in the Swindon squad, it’s not the first time and it isn’t a shock.
Smith started the season in goal to the surprise of many supporters whose confidence in him has always been low and declining. A good goalkeeper when he has competition for his place, but clumsy and not his best when he knows he’s the unchallenged number one.
Deserves a chance? Well it’s pretty simple, no. Yes he was brilliant against Wimbledon, but would he have had the success that Foderingham has achieved between the sticks? I doubt it. I really do.
no.28 – Miles Storey – Missing since 24th September 2011
Three substitute appearances for the young striker this season and a nomination for the League Two ‘apprentice of the year’. With the addition of strength in attack these days unfortunately Miles hasn’t had a look in. I’m sure he’s for the future, but it’s a little odd he was a substitute consistently for a while and then not considered since.
Deserves a chance? A huge player for the youth team in the FA Youth cup this season and I’m sure he’ll get his first professional contract in a few weeks. Definitely one for the future.
no.37 – Louis Thompson – Missing since 28th January 2012
One substitute appearance against Leicester in the FA Cup, Louis Thompson also looks like an option for the future.
Deserves a chance? Unused substitute for a few other games and some great performances in the FA Youth cup, I look forward to day in which he does get his chance.
no.39 – Mehdi Kerrouche – Missing since 10th December 2011
The Algerian returned from his short term loan at Oxford United yesterday.
Of all this list, Medhi Kerrouche is arguably the biggest missing player at the moment. At one point was seen by the fans as a must starter for the team…he had is own song and everyone thought Kerrouche would fire Swindon to promotion. Yes, he fell to the floor a little too often. More than a little actually…
He has eight goals for the Town, but hasn’t been seen since the now infamous 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers. He was also taken off against Colchester in the FA cup after 20 minutes the week before with Paolo obviously unimpressed with a lack of commitment and desire.
Deserves a chance? Alan Connell found himself in this situation earlier on in the season. He trained hard and came back a better player. Starting and scoring against Wigan was a huge reward for that fight back. Unfortunately, it seems Kerrouche is not as willing to put the work in. He’s asked to stay so hopefully he realises the error. If he does work hard in training, gets his place in the team back and starts scoring again, who is going to complain?
Players who are yet to make an appearance this season have not been included. Players are classed as missing since last being selected in the match day 16.
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