Of the midfielders in the squad tonight, two have hardly had a break since the season began. McGregor has even played games for Scotland, and as the captain it’s hard to see him getting dropped anytime soon. The other is David Turnbull.
If Tom Rogic makes it tonight, the obvious move is to drop McCarthy. I hope we don’t. He’s just started getting his feet under the table. He needs games. He needs to play, not just to watch from the side-lines as others get all the time on the pitch.
I would drop Turnbull instead, not just because he needs a break but because he’s playing right now like a guy who needs a break. That’s not to say he’s been terrible, but we look less effective right now than we were earlier in the season and yes, Rogic being out is part of that, but part of it too is just that we have so many players who have played too many matches.
Resting Turnbull would be smart. Have him fresh for the weekend and he’ll play better. Give McCarthy another 90 minutes and watch him grow. We could push McGregor a little further up the pitch; he scores goals when he plays there as he showed at the weekend.
It may be that Rogic isn’t fit enough to start, in which case the point is probably moot as it’ll be McCarthy, McGregor and Turnbull anyway. In that case, I’ll be pleased to see James get more time on the pitch. But Turnbull does need to sit on the bench for a spell. Not a long one, as he’s also a very important player. A while, just to get his conditioning back up.
A lot of these players must be understandably keen for the January break.
It will do them good. It’s the games we have to play until we reach that point which will be weighing on the manager’s mind, and on the player’s legs. We should be benching first team players right now every chance we get.
This would be a bad time to burn somebody out.