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Our resident experts Luke Williams and Niall Murphy will be recording videos every week throughout the season and will each be writing monthly articles, so you will get the very best insight and advice on these pages.
This week, Luke tackles the Aaron Webster injury issue suffered by many a Sky manager post-Overhaul. Even if you do not own Webster, the replacements should appeal as budget options in the coming weeks.
Webster, who currently sits in 46% of the top 1k managers’ teams, picked up a hamstring injury against Brentford at the weekend.
At the time of writing this piece, there have been no updates on his likely length of absence – so initially it seems wise to wait on further news.
If Webster was in line to return for his single matchday on September 27 against Crystal Palace then holding him would be my preference, simply because I expect him to be the best player at his price or below over the season, and swapping out low-impact assets isn’t usually an efficient use of transfers.
However, if we assume the worst and it’s a month or more out, then moving on seems wise.
My top targets are listed below…
Connor Gallagher (7.3m)
If you can find the spare 0.3m and have a midfield position free or even if you have other issues in your team, then Gallagher currently looks a top target.
The midfield position is often underwhelming in Sky and Gallagher looks the perfect player to slot into an area you don’t really want to spend too much money in. His fixtures don’t look overly appealing but as a long-term hold it shouldn’t deter you, and he also has the benefit of covering the aforementioned September 27 fixture that most of us had Webster earmarked for.
His expected goal involvement (xGI) is 3.22 over the last three games, better than any other Premier League player. More than that, though, he offers bonus points with high tackle numbers and shots on target – a rare asset to have for a player so cheap.
Shane Duffy (6.6m)
My second choice to replace Webster would be Shane Duffy. Whilst this move carries an element of risk due to Duffy’s starts not being cemented, the volume of injury issues in Brighton’s squad coupled with the Ireland international’s performances suggest he could become either a permanent fixture or at least carry us for many weeks to come.
He offers similar passing levels to Webster (currently 56.3 per 90 minutes played) but with added goal threat for a cheaper price.
I have perhaps been guilty of overlooking Marcal until now, but his recent haul certainly got my attention. Bruno Lage has both his full-backs playing extremely high up the pitch and therefore more attacking returns look likely in the coming weeks.
This, coupled with an excellent fixture run and a tendency to pick up tackle bonus (three times in four weeks so far), means that he looks like a very shrewd pick. In fact, he has won 14 tackles so far, which is behind only Cesar Azpilicueta.
My only slight worry would be his injury record and that’s why he finds himself third on my list.
Liam Cooper (6.9m)
Leeds have had a pretty torrid start, and conceding 11 goals in four games doesn’t scream ‘invest’.
However, the Whites now embark on a very favourable fixture run and Cooper could serve as a stop-gap with a move back to Webster when he returns. He also offers captaincy coverage this Friday if you require it.
Cooper’s main appeal is high passing numbers. He currently sits at 56.8 passes per 90 minutes despite the tough games and I suspect he will be hitting the 60/70 benchmark for bonus points as the fixtures ease.
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