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Focus: Gallagher the enigma

Focus: Gallagher the enigma

If Paul Gallagher were a puzzle piece, he'd be the one with jagged edges that had no logical place inside the box. One that was certainly interesting, but just didn't quite fit.

Brought to the club as a striker, Gallagher has probably played less than a handful of matches in that particular role, leading everybody to question where he should actually fit into the Leicester system.

We're all very confused.

Gallagher has Matty Fryatt and Martyn Waghorn amongst others to thank for his lack of opportunities as a striker in a Foxes shirt, the position he describes to be his favourite.

From a technical perspective his best attributes appear to be more suited to the midfield where his creative abilities are allowed to flow. Nigel Pearson certainly believed that, and faith was duly rewarded on several occasions.

The quality is certainly present. A brace against Crystal Palace (one goal of which was scored via a delightful lob), a superb hat-trick against Scunthorpe and a perfectly executed volley at home to Watford provide more than enough evidence.

Despite finding himself benched at the beginning of the campaign, Gallagher eventually forced his way into the first team when it was realised that City were actually quite effective with three in midfield and a further trio in attack.

Gallagher found himself as a winger for virtually the rest of the campaign, but you could tell things just weren't right.

There would often be sparkles of quality that drew admiring glances from the Blue Army; a deft touch or sublime cross perhaps, but stranded on the touchline did not sit well for a player who craves his fair share of the action.

It has long been argued that Gallagher is quite possibly the team's best player technically, which is why a position behind the front two has often been suggested. Makes sense, but City simply haven't employed that kind of system to fit him in.

He is not a winger. Pace is lacking and tendencies to cut inside are commonplace, effectively quashing all conventional qualities of your everyday winger.

Competition in the centre of midfield is rife at the moment, and despite matches last year when the Scot looked fairly competent in a central role, Sousa is unlikely to dislodge Matt Oakley, Richie Wellens, Andy King or new capture Yuki Abe anytime soon.

With Lloyd Dyer in encouraging form and Martyn Waghorn signing on a permanent basis there seems to again be the situation of what now for Paul Gallagher.

For a player who on the surface often appears too good to sit on the bench yet often struggles to make an impact from it, a first team spot surely seems the most suitable option for most parties concerned.

But in place of who? Realistically from Sousa's point of view, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where things could be altered to accommodate him.

Gallagher's short-term future remains to be seen, but from our point of view an advanced central role for the man could be the bold decision Sousa needs to make in order to turn the ship around at the Walkers.

In the long term, he isn't going to fancy sitting on the bench match after match. Being subbed after 55 minutes (as was the occurrence during the last match against Reading) isn't too favourable either.

Losing Gallagher would be a disappointing blow if the situation fails to alter over the course of the season, but at this moment in time it really is difficult to see how he can be satisfied under the current regime.

Perhaps with the re-introduction of Fryatt and Waghorn to the first team fold in the coming weeks, the spark that was in force last season can be rekindled quickly enough.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Tuesday September 7 2010
Time: 10:17PM

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