Tomasson's selection decisions as Rovers head coach eyes response

·3-min read
Tayo Edun will be pushing for a first Championship start of the season
Tayo Edun will be pushing for a first Championship start of the season

There is no respite for Rovers with another quick turnaround as they face the difficult-looking trip to face Sheffield United this weekend.

Jon Dahl Tomasson made two changes for the defeat at Reading, and then three more at the break, outlining that he always planned alterations in the second half owing to Rovers’ busy schedule.

The Carabao Cup tie with Bradford City on Tuesday will at least offer the head coach the chance to rotate, but his selection at Bramall Lane will be one that will be focused on trying to find a response after seeing their winning start ended by Reading in midweek.

Seven players have started all four league games to date, with Sam Gallagher and Ryan Hedges losing their ever-present records when dropped to the bench against Reading.

While the pair will be eyeing recalls at Bramall Lane, those yet to be given a chance from the start will also be looking to come into Tomasson’s thoughts.

Tayo Edun has featured off the bench in three of Rovers’ four Championship matches, as well as the Carabao Cup win over Hartlepool United.

After that, Tomasson said the 24-year-old was ‘pushing hard’ for a starting spot.

Of his 23 Championship appearances for Rovers since his move from Lincoln City last summer, almost half have come off the bench, while three of his 13 starts have come as a central midfielder.

Yet Tomasson has outlined that it is on the left side of the defence where he sees Edun as an option, though he did play further forward when replacing Ben Brereton late on against Reading.

Harry Pickering has started all four matches at left back, and has largely been the first choice in that position when fit since the start of last season.

He has filled in as a central defender at times under Tomasson, but struggled in the defeat at Reading, though he wasn’t alone.

Edun will be hoping for an opportunity from the start, as will Bradley Dack who was part of the triple change at Reading.

Liverpool loanee Tyler Morton has featured in every match since signing on a season-long loan, but has so far been unable to break up the Lewis Travis-John Buckley partnership in the middle of the pitch.

Any immediate hopes of a starting spot would likely require a change in formation, given Tomasson’s preference for a central midfield two so far.

However, there is the prospect of a three-man midfield should Tomasson want to match up the Blades in that central area of the pitch.

Paul Heckinbottom’s side have been strong at home under his management, including a 1-0 win over Rovers in March, en route to their march into the top six.

They have already claimed maximum points from their two home games to date, including the 2-1 win over Sunderland on Wednesday night.

Whoever Tomasson does select, he expects a response from his side to the Reading defeat.

He said: “They are great boys, they played against a good Reading side and made all the wrong choices. That's also football. We can't be happy with it. We hate losing, especially in that way.

“It was a great reaction from Reading (to their weekend defeat) and now we need to stick together and get a good reaction.”

Rovers made two changes to their starting line-up at Reading, and one to their matchday squad.

Joe Rankin-Costello, who featured for the Under-21s against Wolves last weekend, came in on the bench in place of Adam Wharton, but remained unused.

The squad will travel to Sheffield later today, with those not involved in the travelling party set to feature for the Under-21s against Liverpool tomorrow.

That could again include Dilan Markanday who despite being in full training, didn’t travel to Reading.

He started the Under-21s’ defeat at Everton earlier in the month, before pulling out of the Wolves defeat ahead of kick-off due to a tight hamstring.

The Blades trip will come too soon for Scott Wharton who is still nursing a calf problem.