The Opposition: Bristol City

Last updated : 25 November 2007 By Gavin Mapstone
The Gameplan
City are likely to play 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 depending on whether Gary Johnson decides to play two out and out strikers or to play one up front and Noble in the hole. Of our other front men, Lee Trundle has yet to hit form, Byfield has worked hard without quite getting the rewards he deserves and Showunmi is just returning from injury. A fit Steve Brooker would be a godsend but it has to be said that he is still untested at this level.

Johnson likes to play a passing game and when on song City are a joy to watch. Few fans like to see us resort to a more direct approach. In part because none of our forwards are great in the air.

City's main strengths are their team spirit and a workrate which is unlikely to be bettered by any other team in the division. When Johnson joined, the dressing room was divided and some individuals were not fully focused on their football. Those players have now left and any Johnson signing is carefully assessed to ensure they are team players and have the right mental attitude.

It's hard to predict where goals are going to come from but McIndoe is a danger around the box and Lee Johnson pulls the strings in midfield. Trundle is capable of pieces of magic but has found goals hard to come by.

Our main weakness is probably a lack of penetration from midfield and creativity in the final third. A feature of our recent defeats has been that we have created few chances to trouble the opposition keeper.

Our only long-term injury is Steve Brooker. Jamie McAllister is back from suspension.

Player by Player
1. Adriano Basso (Goalkeeper) - Flamboyant Brazilian now much loved by City fans. Kicking is sometimes off target but fantastic shot stopper. Dreams of playing for Brazil but will have to improve further to get there.

2. Bradley Orr (Right Back) - Not the most talented but has the heart of a lion. Strong in the tackle and pops up with the odd wonder goal (although some of them looked like crosses gone wrong!) Distribution needs improvement.

4. Liam Fontaine (Centre Back) - One of our most improved players this season. Good in the tackle and calm on the ball. One of our more likely players to progress in the Championship.

6. Louis Carey (Centre Back) - Captain who leads by example and will drive the team forward. Frequently has some kind of injury from putting his body on the line. Consistently one of the best defenders in League One and handled the step up in class easily.

3. Jamie McAllister (Left Back) - Experienced defender who was signed from Hearts. Very good distribution at times but can lose possession cheaply. A bit of a firebrand and served a suspension for five yellows against Leicester on Saturday.

29. Ivan Sproule (Right Wing) - Quick and tricksy Northern Ireland international who needs to add more end product to his game. On his day can destroy teams as he did for Hibs against Rangers. Like Trundle, worth the admission money to watch him alone when on song.

25. Marvin Elliott (Centre Midfield) - One of the key players behind our league position. Marvellous Marvin anchors the midfield, has an amazing engine and is good defensively.

33. Lee Johnson (Centre Midfield) - The more attack minded of our two midfielders and likely to be behind most of our more incisive passing. Needs to add goals but capable of creating them with his clever passing and vision.

11. Michael McIndoe (Left Wing) - A good buy and City will hope that he stays longer than he has for some of his previous clubs. Not blessed with amazing pace but very good delivery and has chipped in with a few goals.

8. David Noble ('The Hole') - Good passing and quick feet but could sometimes do with offloading the ball quicker. When it works the 4-4-1-1 formation is very effective and expect to see Noble at the heart of City's attacks.

34. Darren Byfield (Forward) - Good all- round striker with a bit of everything and a good engine. Not been blessed with chances in some games.

23. Lee Trundle (Forward) - Capable of magic but still adapting to the Championship. Not been helped by having long balls pumped to him in some games as he is better with the ball to feet.

5. Jamie McCombe (Defender) - Last season's player of the year, Jamie is a ball-winning Centre Half who we picked up on the cheap from Lincoln City. Has found opportunities scarce due to Fontaine and Carey playing out of their skins.

7. Scott Murray (Right Wing) - One of the characters in the dressing room and a favourite with the fans. Returned to something approaching his best form last season. Not got the pace of old but still retains an eye for goal both in and out the box.

15. Enoch Showunmi (Striker) - Frustrating character as for a man comfortably in excess of 6ft he can sometimes shy away from the physical aspects of the game. Has a bit of pace and is reasonably cool in front of goal. Just returned from injury.

14. Cole Skuse (Midfielder) - Holding midfielder who is very good at the defensive aspect but too often not enough of a threat in the opposition half. If he can add that to his game then a promising future beckons.

18. Brian Wilson (Utility Player) - Pretty much capable of playing on either flank in defense or midfield. Like many City players he has a good engine and is comfortable on the ball and defensively. Had a reputation for scoring goals at Cheltenham but this hasn't happened at City as yet.

Click here for full squad list

Gavin Mapstone is editor of Bristol City Mad