Last updated : 22 July 2002 By Jonathan Hall

After five friendlies of the pre-season campaign, City boss Keith Alexander, together with his new assistant Gary Simpson and second right-hand man John Schofield, have built up a relatively clear picture of their preferred starting eleven. Almost.


In the vast majority of the friendly games, a set system has been maintained from the off-set. It has become clear that a wing-back system has been adopted, with a trio of centre backs putting up a blockade in the middle of the backline. The consistent inclusion of Paul Mayo during pre-season so far has given a strong indication that the youngster will play a major role on the left this coming season, while Mark Bailey and Mark Camm have, in essence, took turns to battle it out for the right wing-back slot and as it stands, it is hard to tell who is winning that battle.


Alexander has always been keen from building from the back, and with that in mind, he is so far succeeding throughout pre-season. The solid pair of Simon Weaver and the gangly Ben Futcher either side of the more poised Paul Morgan is proving to be quite an effective line of defence, above all, combining height and pace. The evidence speaks for itself -  in City’s five games, just two goals have been conceded.


With regards to the midfield, Alexander has not yet made his mind up. One definite starter has emerged from the games, in Ben Sedgemore (who Alexander may well choose to skipper the side). Down either flank, a whole selection of players have been subject to experimentation – Peter Gain and Adam Buckley on the left; Paul Smith and Scott Willis on the right. If you are in need of an example of competition for places…this is it. Kingsley Black and Ian Hamilton are the midfield players in the squad yet to be mentioned.


Up front, Tony Battersby is effectively picking himself. The much criticised front man has, like so many occasions before, hit a rich vein of form, but many question how long this rejuvenation can continue. Simon Yeo, despite not finding the net in five games, has been touted as the goalscorer City have forever needed.


A young, flexible, relatively quick team is slowly forming and one can be rest assured that Alexander will have his first eleven clearly fixed in his mind ready for the season’s kick-off.



What’s YOUR Imps first XI?

Send Planet Imp your team and we’ll publish it right here.