D3D4 Carlisle United Correspondent Nathan Ridley takes a look at how the Cumbrians will cope without star player Nicky Adams…
In a tweet by the player himself on Tuesday morning, Nicky Adams will seemingly be ruled out for the remainder of the 2017/18 season with a knee ligament injury.
It comes after he was substituted off early in the 4-0 win over Yeovil Town this past weekend, after a collision with Bevis Mugabi – who was not to blame for that particular incident.
That means that like last season, Carlisle United are bordering on an injury-plagued season yet again. The left-winger has been integral to Keith Curle’s team ever since his arrival last season, making that spot his own following his surprise move to the Cumbrians. He has racked up a whopping 32 assists since the 2015/16 season. Cutting inside on his right foot looking for a target man or working well both ways with left-back Danny Grainger, it’s safe to say Adams will be missed.
The beautiful game can be cruel at times. Those that no me no how much I love football and am truly heartbroken that my season is over. I leave with the boys in good form and touching distance of play offs. I no they can do it. Tin tin will be back 👊🏻🔵⚽️ #cufc pic.twitter.com/ldF7IyeJOh
— nicky adams (@nickyadams10) 14 November 2017
However, with no abundance of money at the club and no transfer window until January, there must to be a remedy found quickly as the club aim to continue their budding prosperous form.
The 31 year-old’s “presence in the dressing room” that was described by Clint Hill his own tweet of support and known camaraderie around the club, have specifically been crucial in making him a household name for Carlisle fans. Arguably the most popular man at the club for the last year, he is an asset both on and off the pitch that will be sorely missed.
In terms of systems, the blues often operate without Adams being a key man away and usually is relied on at home. In a 4-4-2 his role is simple: beat men and deliver the ball. Whereas in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1, he plays more forward-like as he aims to use the space. In addition, when operating in a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 he is tasked with a more attacking duty and be extra productive in the final third, as well as having to work less. Nevertheless, like the recent FA Cup victory over Oldham Athletic, he can be sacrificed in a 3-5-2 formation as other men are preferred at wing-back or as the playmaker.
So who can replace him? Well, a 4-4-2 may have to be less relied upon by Curle as likely replacement Jamie Devitt harbours less defensive qualities if playing in front of Grainger. The skilful Irishman, who has had the same time at the club as Adams, is arguably better in footwork-wise but much less productive – although has had less time on the pitch in a natural role whereby he is often wedged in. His time at Morecambe showed he could be a class act on the wing but he may be better used in a 4-2-3-1. Usually in the team for the entire match home or away, Bermuda captain Reggie Lambe will likely play anywhere across the attacking-midfield 3 with Devitt as they can both versatile. That could leave room for returning John O’Sullivan on the right as that is really the only position he could play (thus forcing Devitt or Lambe or into the middle). Or could top goalscorer Hallam Hope – who moved to the left-wing on Saturday and was very productive – fill in in the 3 on the left? In a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3, Hope would be more suited especially due to the fact those formations are often played away where he flourishes most of the time.
It’s safe to say Adams will be a difficult man to replace – but Carlisle have men and tactics within their ranks to help them get over the dilemma they have. Hence, heads will be spinning at Brunton Park right now, in his particular Curle and his coaching staff. There’s certainly time to find a solution, but will it be a successful one?