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School of Science: Right Back

With Phil Neville calling it a day, the right-back position is there for Seamus Coleman’s taking.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, so the right-back position is traditionally not the most exciting one on a football pitch. It was often the guy with little skill but who worked hard, tucked well away from anywhere where he could make a critical mistake (well, it was me for me anyway).

But with the modern player getting ever fitter and more athletic, full-backs are expected more and more to be able to bound from one end of the pitch to the other, being as much an asset in attack as in defence – an art Leighton Baines on the opposite flank has perfected.

The arrival of Roberto Martinez at Goodison also means a 3-5-2 formation may be introduced in certain matches this season, making the wing-backs’ need to cover both ends of the pitch even greater. Luckily we have a player who should be able to fill that role with aplomb...

Seamus Coleman

I am sure there were a number of factors for Neville to consider when he decided to hang up his boots, but the improvement in Seamus Coleman must have been one. Neville was always limited in midfield but was a solid enough full-back – his regular containment of Gareth Bale in testament to that. He was often seen as a safer option by David Moyes when faced with a potent, attacking winger as Coleman’s defending and awareness was not quite up to scratch.

That certainly isn’t the case now.

The Irishman’s defending and positional play has improved immensely without sacrificing his attacking instincts. He was arguably one of the team’s in-form players at the end of last season and should enjoy a fruitful campaign this time around.

Tony Hibbert

Behind Coleman will be the ever-dependable Tony Hibbert. Neck and calf injuries wrecked the 32-year-old’s campaign last year, restricting him to just six appearances. But if he can put those fitness issues behind him he would be a solid deputy to Coleman. His attacking ability has always been limited and that may count against him under Martinez. But it pays to remember that when it came to the games against big sides, David Moyes often turned to Hibbert due to his defensive dependability. That said I expect him to be very much a squad player this season.

John Stones

The wildcard this year could be young John Stones. The teenager shot to prominence with his cheeky penalty kick against Juventus and he should feature in the first team at some stage this year.

He is known to have played right back in recent years, though his eventual position will almost certainly be a centre back. He has played both positions in pre-season, while also operating as one of three centre halves as the boss experiments with formations.

With Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin a solid first-choice pairing in the middle, Stones may get his chance at right-back at times this season and with it the opportunity to make a real name for himself.

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