Swansea manager Steve Cooper has confirmed that full-back Kyle Naughton will be available for selection for the Championship game at Barnsley.
Wales Online reported that the 30-year-old has recovered from the dead leg that forced him off during the defeat to Stoke in the Swans’ last outing earlier this month.
Cooper told Wales Online: “Unfortunately he had to come off against Stoke because of a knock. We all know Kyle well enough that it’ll take a lot for him not to train and play.
“It was a frustrating one for everyone. He was playing well, got back in the team and about 15 minutes in he had a bad enough knock to come off but he’s fine. A couple of days after [the injury] he was in back as normal.”
The 2019/20 season has so far been a largely frustrating one for Naughton, although the international break may have come at the right time for him as he has had ample scope to shake off the injury against Stoke.
He didn’t start any of Swansea’s first seven Championship matches of the season, being restricted to three substitute appearances in that spell, but then started their last four league matches prior to the international break.
With Connor Roberts making the right-back position his own this term, it seems likeliest that Naughton will be targeting a left-back starting spot ahead of Jake Bidwell.
The 30-year-old’s last three starts have all been at left-back, where Bidwell had started every game up until the draw against Bristol City last month, since which he has lost his place in the side, apart from when he came on for Naughton in the Stoke game.
While the ex-Tottenham man has been given the nod in recent weeks, Bidwell has actually had the better defensive statistics this season, with an average of 1.4 successful aerial duels, 0.8 successful tackles, one interception and 2.8 clearances per game. [via WhoScored]
Naughton’s match averages are 0.3 successful aerial duels, 0.4 successful tackles, 0.1 interceptions and 1.3 clearances, although his 85.1% passing success rate has been much higher than Bidwell’s 74.2%. [via WhoScored]
Naughton’s return presents Cooper with a welcome dilemma as to who will get the nod at left-back. Although the 30-year-old has been the preferred option of late, Bidwell’s superior defensive statistics are also worth taking into consideration.
With the firm possibility that fourth-placed Swansea will be on the front foot against 23rd-placed and managerless Barnsley, the superior attacking threat of Bidwell (1.3 key passes and 0.7 crosses per game to Naughton’s 0.3 key passes and no crosses) may see the 26-year-old given the nod.
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Swansea fans, do you think Naughton should go straight back into the starting line-up now that he is fully fit, or would you go with Bidwell at left-back? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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