The phantom of the JJB

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Denny Landzaat’s substitution on Saturday was a bit of a mystery at the time.  Had he been struck by a Teale-esque contact lens injury?  Did he receive a poke in the eye from Alan Smith’s Hoxton Fin?  Ok, so Emile Heskey’s understudy may be sporting a much more sensible barnet than in the last England game, but how else do you explain the medical staff messing about with the Dutchman’s baby blues?

Well it turns out that he’d managed to fracture an eye-socket.  Without upsetting Mr Bennett with speculation of leading arms, I’ll admit to not having a clue how it happened and instead start fretting about how long he’ll be out.

Denny has already been withdrawn from this week’s Holland squad and early indications are that it will be weeks before we see him again.  If that’s the case them we’ll get a fair chance to find out about the strength and depth of the Latics midfield.

Skoko’s unspectacular run out on Saturday doesn’t fill you full of hope on that count but the Aussie isn’t the only option in that area.  In fact his inclusion in the squad was probably due more to Valencia’s absence than his own ability.

The likely replacement will be Michael Brown whose performances in the last two games would have had both Scharner and Landzaat looking over their shoulders anyway.  It doesn’t stop there either. 

Without speculating on the ability of Bouaouzan a more creative option would be to move Koumas inside.  In fact, I’d urge Hutchings to think about a pairing of Brown and Koumas, if I thought he was listening.

Around them you’ve got the options of Valencia, Rachid, Cotterill, Sibierski or even Aghahowa.  Each has their risks, but equally has their plus points. 

So what about, poor old Scharner?  Well he’s been a bit hit and miss so far this season and when Partnered with Skoko at Newcastle looked a little lost.  I can’t see it now but I’d say if had the most to lose from Brown’s impressive start to life in blue and white stripes.

Then again, the speculation may be unfounded, all the extra pressure may prompt Landzaat into an early return (Alex Cribley’s magic fingers allowing).  If that happens then can we look forward to him trotting out in a specially made Mabbut/Gazza face mask (the title making sense now?). 

Then we’ll know how far we’ve come.  One of our players wearing something that you can’t buy in JJB, who’d have thought it?

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