Chris Brunt to be centre of attention
Chris Brunt could go head-to-head with England midfielder Frank Lampard in a midfield battle when the Premier League season kicks-off next month.
That’s because the Northern Ireland winger has been cast in a new role by West Bromich Albion manager Roberto Di Matteo.
Brunt has played on the right-wing, as well as his usual role on the left during the last couple of seasons at West Brom.
Now, however, Di Matteo has moved the 25-year-old into the heart of his midfield in pre-season — and he played most of last Saturday’s friendly against Bristol City in that area of the pitch.
Now that’s where he could start in the opening game of the season at Stamford Bridge.
“We’re trying out a few options by using players in different ways,” said Di Matteo.
“I think Chris Brunt has shown me that he can play more centrally as well as in a wide position.
“Yes, it’s a possibility we could play him there during the season, but we’re just trying out a few things at this stage.
“If you don’t try them out in pre-season when are you going to try them out?”
Brunt shone during West Brom’s last Premier League campaign, mostly on the left wing, but was moved onto the right late in the season by West Brom’s former manager Tony Mowbray.
It is almost certain that Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington will stick with Brunt in a left-wing role though with central midfield being one of the strongest areas of his international squad.
Meanwhile the ever-growing Northern Ireland contingent in the Scottish Premier League gained another member last night.
Already this summer both Rory McArdle and Josh Magennis have signed for Aberdeen, while goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey recently signed for Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Now Hamilton Academicals have got in on the act, with the club confirming the signing of former Northern Ireland under-21 international left-back David Buchanan.
The 24-year-old has agreed a one-year deal with the Clydesdale Bank Premier League club after being released by Bury at the end of last season.
Buchanan had been on trial at Rochdale, but decided to join the Accies after impressing manager Billy Reid in training and pre-season friendlies.