Sergei's The Man

Tony Gale says there can be a place for Sergei Rebrov on the right hand side - and is looking forward to watching his competitive home debut against Reading.

Tony, who is covering the game for Sky, says that there are alternative ways of getting Sergei into the team as well.

"It is a difficult one; I am one of the ones saying you have got to play Marlon Harewood up front and when you do that there is only one other place up front," says Tony.

"I would have thought Teddy has been brought in to play and Marlon could learn a lot from him if he plays regularly.

"So Bobby Zamora and Sergei Rebrov are two players looking to break into the first team in those striking roles, but they might have to wait their chance because I think Marlon is probably deserving of a run in the side up front after playing most of the season on the right hand side.

"There are a couple of other ways Alan could do it, such as playing a diamond that every one knows about with England in the summer.

"There is maybe the option of playing Sergei behind the front two at home, but then you lose a bit of width if you do that.

"Mullins and Reo-Coker are both solid players in the middle of the park and pretty good defensively with plenty of energy.

"Maybe we just lack that killer pass to unlock teams and maybe Alan might think about playing Sergei behind the strikers at home - he is a quality player and you need to get him on the ball as much as possible.

"You could play Teddy behind the strikers, but I don't think at his age he would relish the tracking back, because if you are playing at the tip of the diamond you have a responsibility to do a bit defensively as well.

"He could also play the two of them behind a striker like Harewood, who is always going to stretch defenders with his pace."

There is also competition from Bobby Zamora, of course, and Tony adds:

"Bobby wasn't in the starting line-up for the first game but I don't think there is any reason he should get his head down; he did work on Saturday, missed one chance when he just couldn't get hold of it to get his shot away, and he had the header late on, but when he did come on I thought he did quite well.

"He has to knuckle down, and put Marlon, Serge, and Teddy under pressure."

Looking at the opening day draw with Leicester, he adds:

"It was a decent away point; before the game started we probably would have settled for a point against one of the promotion favourites.

"In fact, I have even backed them for promotion in the betting shop because they are such an experienced side.

"But when Dublin got sent off it changes the face of the game after 18 minutes - and meant that Leicester were just going to defend.

"But it may have shown Alan and Peter Grant that that is how teams will probably play against us at home; they will defend deep and get people behind the ball even when there are 11 men, so we are going to have to find ways of creating chances.

"Marlon had a couple of good ones, one in the first and one in the second; Bobby Zamora had a couple and it is always difficult coming on as sub.

"But it was a game that looked destined for stale mate as soon as Dublin got sent off.

"It was a baking hot day; that meant it was difficult to raise the tempo of the game, which is what we needed to do when Dublin was sent off.

"Possibly our most influential and creative player last season, Matthew Etherington, was well marshalled by the experienced Leicester defence, and Makin in particular.

"We didn't really get any joy down the flanks and it very difficult to break down an experienced side like Leicester."

As for the red cards of Dion Dublin and Rufus Brevett, he adds:

"I thought the first one was much ado about nothing, I have got to be honest.

"Rufus was having a bit of a jostle for a place with Dion Dublin at the throw-in; Dion fell on the floor and lashed out at Rufus.

"He didn't deserve the yellow card there and maybe Dion could have got away with a yellow in the first game of the season if the referee had shown a bit of common sense.

"Then again, when you are right on the spot as a referee I suppose you are thinking about the people watching in the stands and you feel you have to send him off.

"I thought Rufus had to watch himself, having got the yellow card, and it was a silly tackle late on to get the second yellow.

"Both experienced players will be regretting that."

Chris Cohen is likely to replace Rufus, who serves an immediate one match ban against Reading, and Tony adds:

"I have seen Chris play on the left of midfield when Matthew Etherington was out for a couple of games, and he will have a bit to do defensively because Reading are a decent team.

"I don't think he will let anyone down; let's just hope he is another one coming along the conveyor belt..."