CASE FOR THE DEFENCE: Baldwin or Santos? Bostwick or Tafazolli?

MIchael Bostwick.
MIchael Bostwick.
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Peterborough United have signed three new defenders since the end of last season.

Ryan Tafazolli and Andrew Hughes, joined Hayden White as new arrivals this week as new Posh manager Grant McCann tries to create competition for defensive places.

Ricardo Santos (right).

Ricardo Santos (right).

Yesterday (June 9) the Peterborough Telegraph dicussed the battle between the full-backs at the ABAX Stadium and today we run the rule over the club’s central defenders.

RIGHT-SIDED CENTRAL DEFENDER

RICARDO SANTOS V JACK BALDWIN

Santos has the physical attributes to be a dominant central defender at League One level.

Jack Baldwin.

Jack Baldwin.

He’s 6ft 5in with a boxer’s physique, but he makes mistakes that can’t all be explained away by inexperience and youth (he’s played almost twice as much first­-team football as Elder for instance).

The positives re Santos are his enthusiasm and his commitment.

He’s also not that bad on the ball for someone so big.

The negatives are his lack of pace, his poor positioning and a clumsiness when faced with nimble, tricky opponents.

Ryan Tafazolli (right).

Ryan Tafazolli (right).

Santos was sent off twice last season following clumsy fouls.

Baldwin needs a big season. He arrived at Posh with a tall reputation, although an instant comparison with Alan Hansen did him no favours.

Injury stopped Baldwin in his tracks at Posh and the erratic nature of his displays in the second half of last season can therefore partly be forgiven.

He finished the season as Posh skipper and his dedication and attitude can’t be faulted. His distribution can.

McCann says: “It was a tough decision to allow Gaby Zakuani to leave, but we still have four very good central defenders at the club.”

Swanny says: If it does come down to a straight choice between these two players for the right-sided central defensive role, Baldwin would win my vote every day of the week.

He’s far from the finished article, but if he concentrates on his defending, and giving the ball to Chris Forrester, rather than trying to ping 50­-yard passes, he can become a high-quality centre-back.

MICHAEL BOSTWICK v RYAN TAFAZOLLI

It could be that these two actually play together, but as Bostwick played most of last season as the left centre-­back, and that’s Tafazolli’s position, they could also be in direct competition.

Defensive doubts persist about Bostwick’s lack of pace and mobility, but he was one of Posh’s best players last season. He’s strong in the tackle and powerful in the air.

His positional skills can overcome a lack of natural speed.

Tafazolli arrived with a lofty reputation though, and not just from biased Mansfield fans. He won five player-of-­the-­year awards at the League Two club last season, but his performances were noted by other clubs with several chasing his signature alongside Posh, including Sheffield United.

Tafazolli is a defender first and foremost, but he is also a threat in the opposition penalty area at set­-pieces and that’s an area Posh must improve on next season.

McCann says: “We need to do better at set pieces and Ryan was a regular goal­scorer for Mansfield last season.

“Ryan will improve us in both penalty areas as he attacks the ball so well.

“He is an excellent defender and he is a left-­footer, which provides a bit of balance to the back-line, but I also believe he will score goals.”

Swanny says: I can’t see Bostwick being left out of the starting line-­up and I get the impression Tafazolli has been signed as a first­-choice player.

It will be a dilemma for McCann, but he has raved about Bostwick’s ability to play in midfield in the past so maybe that will be an option.