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Championship

Garry Monk would be unlikely to offer Leeds United a Eunan O’Kane fix this summer

The Irishman has not been in good form for Leeds United this season.

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This week saw Birmingham City employ Garry Monk as their new manager, with the task of keeping the club in the Championship for next season. He got off to a poor start last night, losing to his former club Middlesbrough 1-0.

Fans from one of his other former clubs however have been interested in Monk’s appointment. Birmingham’s new boss was of course manager at Leeds United last season. He nearly took them to the play-offs, only to lose out after a resurgent Fulham stormed up the Championship table.

Monk’s appointment at Birmingham has already got tongues wagging regarding some Leeds players joining him at St Andrew’s in the summer. The free agent this summer Pablo Hernandez, a fan favourite at Elland Road, already feared to be a target for Monk.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 07: Garry Monk manager of Leeds United looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Leeds United at Craven Cottage on March 7, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

But there are other Leeds players that fans at Elland Road would happily see head to Birmingham in the summer for a Monk reunion.

One such player is Eunan O’Kane. Signed by Monk in August 2016 the Republic of Ireland international came with promotion pedigree. O’Kane had helped Bournemouth to Premier League promotion in 2014-15. However, he has failed to win over Leeds fans. This season in particular the Irishman has struggled and many Leeds fans would not be sad if Monk targeted him in the summer.

Unfortunately, that looks unlikely.

Whilst Monk may have signed O’Kane he, like the Leeds fanbase, was never won over by the midfielder. O’Kane ended up losing his place at Leeds to youngsters Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira toward the end of the season. He spoke of his frustration at his enforced absence to the Irish Times last September, stating:

“It was hugely frustrating for me because I had been in that situation before in terms of teams trying to get promoted and I do think my experience could have benefited everyone…

LEEDS, ENGLAND – JANUARY 25: Michael Mancienne of Nottingham Forest closes down Eunan O’Kane of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Nottingham Forest at Elland Road on January 25, 2017 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

“It’s not my place to pick the team but if you do go back to last season and look at the record of when I was in the team, I don’t think I could have done an awful lot more than what I did do.

“But I wasn’t being selected. It’s like I say, though, I didn’t get to pick the team; all I could do was make myself available.”

Clearly Monk was not overly convinced on O’Kane and, Leeds fans would not blame him based on his recent form.

If Leeds fans want to see O’Kane moved on and replaced in the summer they might just get their wish. But any idea Birmingham could be a quick fix to the problem now Monk is there should be swiftly forgotten.

Championship

Conor Coady shows Liverpool what they’re missing in masterful Wolves campaign

The Wolves captain was tipped for big things at Liverpool but never made the grade.

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Back in 2011, Liverpool had one of their young starlets being tipped to become the ‘next Steven Gerrard.’ It was a tag being occasionally branded around the club about young talent Conor Coady. With good reason as well. The teenager was looking like the most natural successor to Gerrard yet.

The summer previous, he had helped England win the UEFA under-17 Championships, which is where the hype all began. Liverpool had unearthed a gem who immediately found himself tipped to become a future Kop captain.

But it never happened for the young man.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Instead, he headed to Sheffield United on loan – where he excelled. After getting a taste for regular football, the idea of returning to the reserve life with Liverpool clearly did not appeal to the utility man. Therefore, he left Liverpool in 2014, joining Huddersfield Town.

Liverpool fans soon forgot about him. Just another hyped up youngster who could not match the expectations laid at their door?

Well, this season Coady has finally looked like the real deal.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The Melwood talent did not stick with Huddersfield for long. In 2015 he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and he is now looking like the talent Liverpool thought they had at Molineux.

One issue with Coady has always been his position. Often moved around the park, this season he has played as a settled central defender. The results have been exceptional. Coady has been one of the best players in the Championship this campaign. That was highlighted by his inclusion in the Championship team of the season. The 25-year-old is now looking like a future Premier League star and will be playing in the big time next season after captaining Wolves to the Championship summit.

When Liverpool sold Coady to Huddersfield, they did so for a fee reported to be just £500,000 by the Liverpool Echo. The Reds obviously felt he would not live up to those once lofty expectations.

Based on his form this season, Liverpool could be rueing this mistake in the not so distant future.

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Aston Villa

Should Paul Lambert consider a Gabriel Agbonlahor reunion at Stoke City?

The Stoke City boss got the best out of Agbonlahor at times during his spell at Aston Villa.

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Reports in the press this week are suggesting that Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor may decide to retire from the sport this summer. The Sun is suggesting the striker may decide to hang up his boots this summer should he not receive an offer he deems appropriate.

The former England international is out of contract in the summer and his club has little or no interest in keeping him at Villa Park. After coming through the ranks at the club, Agbonlahor will bring an end to his 17-year association with Aston Villa.

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The striker has struggled with his fitness in recent years and his form has also dropped dramatically but, at just 31-years-old, it would be a strange move to quit altogether.

What Agbonlahor needs is to work with a former boss of his who got some of the best out of him. Paul Lambert had such an impact at Aston Villa. Agbonlahor pushed for an England recall in 2013 under the guidance of the Scottish manager. Lambert had him leaner and smarter in attack and generally, it was a good working relationship.

So could Lambert hand him a life-line?

Lambert looks like he will be managing in the Championship next season. The Stoke City boss saw his side draw 1-1 with Burnley today. The gap between the Potters and survival is getting no smaller.

In order to return to the top-flight Stoke will need some new recruits and Agbonlahor could be perfect.

(Photo credit should read GRAHAM STUART/AFP/Getty Images)

Whilst not the player he was five years ago, the experienced attacker has played just six times this season, scoring one goal, this is still a player who was a Premier League star under Lambert’s rule just five years ago.

Of course, he won’t be outpacing many players these days. But his experience and nous could be a vital addition to Stoke’s cause if they are fighting to return to the Premier League next season.

If Lambert can get Agbonlahor anywhere near his best, then the Potters would be on to a winner.

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Championship

Has Adam Forshaw been getting off lightly for Leeds United?

Leeds United’s January recruit finally got a win with his new club this weekend.

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Leeds United picked up a win in the Championship yesterday, with Paul Heckingbottom getting one over his old side Barnsley. Goals from Tom Pearce, his first for the club, and Ezgjan Alioski gave the West Yorkshire side all three points. It was only Leeds United’s third win of 2018. But once again Leeds did so largely without their January transfer window signing Adam Forshaw.

Forshaw came into the game in the 84th minute. It is now the first time he has enjoyed a win as a Leeds player.

When Leeds turned over Forshaw’s former club Brentford in a 1-0 result back in February the midfielder was with his wife, who was giving birth. He was also injured when Leeds beat Bolton Wanderers on Good Friday, with a calf problem.

In fact, until yesterday’s cameo appearance, Forshaw had a record of played nine, lost five drew four and conceded 20.

Of course, this is not a case of pinning the blame on the new boy. In general, Leeds’ entire first-team squad has performed badly since the turn of the year.

However, since his January arrival, Forshaw has been well received by Leeds fans for his performances. In a season where the likes of Eunan O’Kane, Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira have been roundly criticised the new recruit was getting off very lightly.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

When you consider the fact he has not yet made a real contribution toward Leeds United winning a game, it is perhaps a shock to see him being so well received compared to the other central midfielders at Leeds.

O’Kane has had a poor season whilst Phillips just looks like being an inconsistent player. Vieira has struggled with tendonitis but, in recent games, has rediscovered his form.

Forshaw has not particularly performed any better than the other central-midfield options at Leeds, in particular, the younger pair, and he will need to improve next season if he is to have a major impact on the Leeds first-team.

 

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