Selection headache for Holloway

Gary Taylor-Fletcher is fully fit and should return to the squad
Gary Taylor-Fletcher is fully fit and should return to the squad
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THERE aren’t many occasions when you wouldn’t want to be a highly paid football manager, but this may be one.

For God help Ian Holloway when it comes to choosing 16 players for Middlesbrough - it is far from a straightforward task.

The starting 11 won’t alter much from the team which beat Millwall.

Ian Evatt is back after suspension, replacing the injured Neal Eardley.

The only other player that might perhaps be a little nervous is Callum McManaman. Kevin Phillip’s match-winning heroics to sink Millwall and Matt Phillips’ six goals in six games for Sheffield United mean McManaman - perhaps not as effective as Lomana LuaLua and Jonjo Shelvey in the Millwall victory - has competition.

But it is the bench where the real problems arise.

Elliot Grandin has returned to training, but tomorrow will be too soon for a man who hasn’t played since August.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher is fit and available though, Billy Clarke is back in town, Tom Ince has done little wrong, while Brett Ormerod and Daniel Bogdanovic will feel they deserve to be involved. Add to that, two of Kevin Phillips, McManaman, and Matt Phillips and that is seven frontmen vying for a spot among the substitutes.

Given that Holloway is likely to opt for a defender/midfielder (Basham or Martinez) and a keeper (Mark Howard) on the bench, four strikers will miss out - five if you include Grandin.

“It is going to be a tough decision to say the least, but tough decisions are what I am paid to make,” said Holloway.

“And besides any football manager would rather have options galore than none at all. The last thing you want is the team picking itself every week - that’s not the way to do it.

“In our promotion season we were able to bring players in when things needed freshening up and that’s exactly what I want again this year.”

True enough, but Holloway’s biggest problem in the next few weeks might not be on the pitch but off it and keeping everyone happy.