BY Pete Starr

16 May

Worth A Punt? Cherry Picking From The Relegation Dross

With those doomed to relegation now confirmed, we’ve taken a look at which players deserve to be plucked from clubs hurtling towards the Championship and given another crack at the Premier League next year.

Alex McCarthy

Just received his first call up to the senior England set up following a string of decent performances, the highlight being his superhuman display against Liverpool. Can’t work out if this is an endorsement of his talents or more of a withering analysis of his goalkeeping partner at Reading – Adam Federici. Anyway, with the young England hopeful in goal Reading concede every 56.8 minutes or every 11.57 shots faced. With Federici between the sticks those numbers plummet to conceding a goal every 47.2 minutes or every 8.32 shots faced. Either way, McCarthy is an exciting prospect who’s served a decent lower league apprenticeship.

Who could do with him? – Liverpool

With Brad Jones never convincing as Reina’s No.2, a bit of fresh competition between the sticks wouldn’t go amiss. Already worked under Rogers at Reading and we all know how much he likes players he’s familiar with.

Julio Cesar

An experienced international playing behind an utterly dismal defence. His good form this season has seen him return to the Brazil set up after a spell in the international wilderness. Been there and done it all in the club game and seems determined to stay in London next year. Still only 33, Cesar would offer a good few years of service to anyone willing to take on his fairly hefty wages. It’s fair to assume QPR will want them off their payroll A.S.A.P so a fanciful transfer fee is unlikely to be a stumbling block.

Who could do with him? – Arsenal/Fulham

It seems like eons since Arsenal had a keeper who did all the simple things right and he’d add an element of stability and experience to their backline that’s been sorely missing in recent years. Mark Schwarzer is now 851 years old and Fulham will have to replace him one day soon.

Altonlin Alcaraz

One of the major reasons why Wigan have struggled defensively this year has been the amount of time the Paraguayan has spent in the physio’s room. Injured continuously from August to March, Wigan’s win percentage in all competitions this year goes from 50% with him in the side to 23.4% when he’s been absent. Aged 30, this ball playing centre back is a perceptive chap and sits 13th in the PL standings for interceptions per game.

Who could do with him? – Southampton/Aston Villa

Both clubs have managed to attack their way out of trouble this year, but there’s no hiding the fact that Jos Hooiveld is a real shower of shite, whilst Villa’s entire backline and midfield is screaming out for someone over the age of seven to come and hold their hands whenever Ron Vlaar is absent.

Callum McManaman

Gets on this list due to his FA Cup final appearance alone. Gave not one, but two PL winning full backs, both in the primes of their careers, an absolute rimming last weekend, earning one a red card in the process. Direct, pacy and raw, it’s a real shame we won’t get to see him tested against the best of his generation at the U21 Euros this summer as he knackered his knee against Arsenal the day after making the squad. For shame.

Who could do with him? – Liverpool/Everton

Whilst Stewart Downing has snapped out of his 18 month coma this year to sort out one flank problem, there’s still the issue of the other with players like Henderson, Coutinho and Borini being stationed there out of position. Raheem Sterling, lest we forget, is still potty training. Everton on the other hand could do with some reliable back up to Kevin Miralles. The Belgian has been superb this season but has struggled with injuries at times and only completed 90 minutes six times all season.

Shaun Maloney

The Scotch chode has finally taken to the PL at last following a difficult spelt at Aston Villa earlier in his career. He’s notched seven goals and 10 assists this term, proven to be a devil from set pieces around the box, lays claim to the 12th best passing accuracy in the entire league and creates as many chances per game as Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Carlos Tevez. At 30, he’s no spring chicken, but anyone in the bottom half of the table looking for a bit of creativity could do a lot worse.

Who could do with him – Norwich

Boy could the Canaries do with a bit of creativity as currently Wes Hoolahan is the only player with even a smidge of imagination between his ears at Carrow Road. They’ve managed the considerable coup of snaffling Ricky Van Wolfswinkle this summer; getting a in a few players who can pass to him might not be a terrible idea. Anthony ‘Pilko’ Pilkington doesn't seem to be quite up to the job if you ask me.

Loïc Remy

Erm, his alleged bedroom antics leave a massive ‘IF’ next to this one. IF he is cleared of all charges he is a top drawer forward, who had the misfortune of ending up at the on going car crash that is QPR. Rattled in six from 12 starts after moving from Marseille including a couple of absolute pearlers. IF NOT, however, then yeah he’s probably not worth signing.

Who could do with him? Newcastle/Fulham

Newcastle and Fulham have both struggled up front this year with Papiss Demba Cisse misfiring badly till about March whilst Dimi Berbatov lacked a strike partner operating on anywhere near his level. If innocent, Fulham would represent a nice London option though his f*cking huge wages could be an issue. Newcastle love chucking cash around willy nilly at contracts and already boast a pond (team) full of frogs (Frenchies) to entice him with.

Arouna Kone

Arrived at Wigan having knobbed in 17 goals for La Liga club, Levante, last year and has served up 13 strikes and five assists in his debut PL season - not bad. The Ivorian has won plenty of fans due to being strong in the air, pacy and a competent finisher. Once scored a hat-trick against Gabon, which is pretty ideal.

Who could do with him? Sunderland/West Ham

The scale of Martin O’Neill’s ineptitude towards the end of his time at Sunderland was highlighted when he spaffed £5 million big ones on Danny Graham in a bid to deliver some much needed goals and stave off relegation. He’s mustered up a staggering 0 in 12 appearances thus far. Kone cost just over half that fee last summer and would offer a pacy goal threat that the Black Cats have lacked all season without breaking the bank. Not sure exaclty why but he also reeks of an Alardcye signing to me.

What do you think of that list? Have we missed out any big talents? Let us know in the comments below.

Pete Starr

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