Julian Kelly has played less than 50 minutes in the League Cup for Reading this season, an exciting 3-3 affair against Northampton that hardly covered him in glory. Brian McDermott took him off after 50 minutes leaving him back in the reserve wilderness for 5 months. Undoubtedly he has doubtless learned an awful lot over a 21 game rollercoaster in Impdom since being released by Arsenal youth in 2006, that will stand him in good stead in the future. Steve Coppell was so keen to snap him up, but he and successive managers have been frustrated at the lads progress and somewhat sleight frame, even for a full-back. We know the feeling but this could play into the Imps hands, should we as rumoured, make a move for him during the summer.
Julian made his loan debut for the Imps on 15th January with Wycombe his previous loan haunt, in the chair of all sides(February 2009 9 games 1 goal). It was a game we lost 2-1 with ‘Delboy’ Facey captaining the side for the first time, yet he and left back Hunt filled us with a sense of promise even as we hit rock bottom of the football league. Indeed Julian and tally-ho-the-Hunt were cited as the main reasons for an improvement in the defence, but in truth the 5 wins on the bounce, bar two clean sheets , were down to our attacking prowess. Some were talking playoffs as I remember?
But back to the young charge who could return for good on July 1st 2011, a day when Mr Tilson’s prodigal sons will assemble and swear their allegiance to the Lincoln flag. Julian is great going forward, with pace and a magnetic right boot that knows exactly when to reverse the polarity to release crosses that belong in peach orchards destined for Harrods. Yet for all the overlaps and entertaining offensive endeavour he has just the one assist and, for McCallums third minute goal at Port Vale, to show for it. Five shots, with just one on target, can be forgiven in a full-back, but the defensive naivety cannot.
Like Cian Hughton and several fullbacks before him, time and again he has been roasted, and turned inside out to expose Watt and Hone. Once beaten, to his credit, pace as opposed to fouling gets him out of jail on occaision but alas not nearly enough. Just the five fouls and one yellow card is pretty impressive in League 2 given the standard of referring we must endure, Crewe on Saturday a shameful case in point. Yet he allows his man to turn to face him and thus rob him of a yard or two, so key in the duel of the winger and full-back duet as they play out at most a twenty yard sprint in the final third, before the ensuing delivery or corner.
Julian is only 21 and learning his trade, but then so was Paul Green and he has an all-roundness to his game, even if he is a partial jack of all trades and master of none. The question is will Steve Tilson reason that Howell in front of Kelly could be just the ticket next year. For when sides go 2 on 1 on all fullbacks look foolish and we are just as likely to concede down the flanks as the motorway we have down the middle. But that is the agony and the ecstasy of Tilson’s preferred 4-4-2 formation.
- DOB 6th Sep 1989
- Age 21
- POB London, England
- Height 5' 9" (175cm)
- Weight 10st 9lbs (67.5kg)
- Team Reading + Lincoln City & Wycombe on loan
- Position Defence
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