After scouting the goalkeepers, today the Sport-Locker.net scout casts his eye over the defence and highlights some of the cheaper players for you to consider before the season gets underway…
Andre Wisdom – £4m
Top of our shopping list is the Liverpool loanee, who looks to be the pick of the £4m-rated defenders. After the departure of Billy Jones to Sunderland, he will battle for a starting spot with Costa Rican Christian Gamboa, who may be given time to adjust to English football. He has also been handed the No. 2 shirt by new gaffer Alan Irvine.
The inclusion of Wisdom will also free up extra cash for the inclusion of a big hitter at the back, such as Coleman, Baines or Ivanovic (all £7m) or Cahill, Terry, Zabaleta and Kompany (all £6.5m).
West Bromich Albion opening fixtures: Sunderland (h), Southampton (a), Swansea (a).
Steven Caulker – £5m
The 22-year-old helped himself to an overall haul of 122 points last term, the 14th highest of any defender in the league – which is even more impressive considering he achieved this in a struggling Cardiff side.
While many will point to Rio Ferdinand’s availability for the slightly cheaper price of £4.5m, the elder statesman is unlikely to play every game and not renowned for his ability to hit the back of the net, something which Caulker did five times last season.
A player Redknapp knows well from his time at Spurs (he actually gave him his debut), Caulker seems likely to be a big player for QPR this season.
Queens Park Rangers opening fixtures: Hull (h), Spurs (a), Sunderland (h).
Kieran Trippier – £5m
The pick of the Clarets defenders in the last few seasons is Trippier, a buccaneering right back who loves to get balls in the box. £5m might seem steep for a newly promoted player, but the former Man City youth player weighed in with 12 assists last year.
The fact Hull City avoided relegation last season means that only 6 of the 21 teams (29%) promoted to the Premier League in second place have been relegated; a promising stat for Dyche and his men.
Burnley opening fixtures: Chelsea (h), Swansea (a), Man Utd (h).
Geoff Cameron – £4.5m
Missed just one league game last season and although given extended leave after his World Cup campaign, he recently returned to skipper the side for 45 minutes against Burton Albion.
The introduction of Phillip Bardsley to the Stoke City squad has cast some doubts on who will feature at right back for the Potters, with both Marc’s (Muniesa and Wilson) also featuring in that position this summer. But Hughes certainly rates the slick American and at £4.5m he looks a solid purchase.
Stoke City opening fixtures: Villa (h), Hull (a), Man City (a).
Neil Taylor – £4.5m
A somewhat forget man (even we’ve left him until last), Taylor has looked solid in pre-season where he has rotated with Scottish youngster Stephen Kingsley in the left-back slot.
After Ben Davies departure to Spurs he is almost certain to start the season as the Swans no.1 in this position.
If Garry Monk’s men can get through the opening day bout with Man Utd without shipping a hatful, they’ll be confident of six points from the next two home games.
Swansea City opening fixtures: Man Utd (a), Burnley (h), West Brom (h).
Ron Vlaar – ‘Roncrete’ as he was affectionately dubbed looks a snip at £4.5m, especially after the way he marshalled the Dutch back three/five in the World Cup. However it is worth nothing that nearly 25% of managers have already taken a punt on the big man and he hasn’t played a single minute of pre-season to date after his prolonged spell in Brazil.
Jores Okore – People were raving about this lad at the start of last season before a harsh anterior ligament injury meant he barely kicked a ball. As things currently stand he has played more times for Denmark (7) than he has for Villa (3), however Okore has featured in all but one of the Villan’s pre-season fixtures and at £4.5m he is one for the watchlist.
Disagree with our scout picks? Prove him wrong by entering a team into our free prize league using the code: 531881-136002