Manager Darren Moore fielded a much changed side against Mansfield in the League Cup to the one that he has used throughout the Championship campaign. He has stuck with more or less the same players throughout the season so far with a relative degree of success.
But Tuesday’s match was an opportunity for Moore to rotate his squad and give game time to fringe players. He also tried to tweak his formation, playing with five at the back- something that he has occasionally done this season.
Mears (valued at 180k on Transfermarkt.co.uk) fitted into the right wing back position, taking the pressure off Tosin Adarabioyo, who has been deployed at a right-back at times this season, despite being more comfortable as a centre-back.
When Moore has used this formation at other points this season, he has used Matt Phillips as a wing back, which probably constricts one of their best players from his best position. Mears is versatile enough to fill in in this position and formation when he is called upon. That is why the 35-year-old will be crucial in games like these, as he has the experience to help other players around him, and allows them to play in different positions.
The performance against Mansfield isn’t that important. It was just a case of making sure they won, and they did. This was a chance for Moore to experiment with his team, and Mears is there to facilitate that experimentation.
The chances are that Mears will not regularly start in the Championship this season, but he has provided Moore with with experience and a chance to rest some of his key players. Mears will know that is his role at the club, and it is already paying off.