Magilton must decide to stick or tweak

BLUES boss Jim Magilton will this week decide whether to stick to a winning side or tweak it once more in a bid to win back-to-back games for the first time since last February.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis>

BLUES boss Jim Magilton will this week decide whether to stick to a winning side or tweak it once more in a bid to win back-to-back games for the first time since last February.

With Ben Thatcher pushing for a recall after getting more match practise under his belt following injury, and Jon Stead giving the manager a nudge with two goals against QPR on Saturday, Magilton is in the perplexing, but enviable position, of choice.

Thatcher was part of a Blues reserve side that faced Charlton in the Valley last night in the reserve League Challenge Cup after recovering from a torn thigh muscle.

As the most senior left-sided defender the 32-year-old who signed as a free agent after leaving Charlton in the summer, Thatcher will be looking to replace stand-in David Wright who has done an excellent job over that side.

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It may be difficult to leave Wright out of the side and Magilton may consider returning him to his more natural right side of defence role, although that would mean dropping on-loan Fulham defender Moritz Volz.

Alex Bruce, whose agent has been in further contract talks over the past couple of weeks, will have to settle for a place on the bench, while Pim Balkestein waits for another chance at centre half.

Magilton has made it no secret he still hankers over another experienced centre-half and Celtic's Darren O'Dea with SPL and Champions' League knowledge fits the bill.

Another head-scratcher for Magilton is whether to start with goalscorer Stead at Blackpool, or stick with Kevin Lisbie, whose goal ratio dramatically increased when he starts, but missed some half-decent chances in the past couple of games.

Stead replaced Lisbie to bag his brace on Saturday and there is always Pablo Counago to consider.

Magilton has shown he is less prone to tinkering too much with his side and the formation these days but that doesn't mean he or the team are becoming predictable.

The left side is still not perfect, Alan Quinn is the current incumbent but Owen Garvan or Stead could go out left, although the Irishman seems to have clicked with Veliche Shumulikoski in central midfield with David Norris effectively coming in from the right when Jon Walters is up front.

While Quinn has done a good job out there it continues to look a bit make and mend and will do until a specialist signing for that position is made.

Darren Ambrose remains the favourite, and also has the ability to play wide on the right if needed.

Even though chief executive Derek Bowden said a swap deal with Iván Campo was still possible, the chances of it look less likely since current Charlton manager Alan Pardew said it was not going to happen. His stance came just days after Magilton underlined the Spaniard's influence at the club, especially with the young players.