Our offensive armoury may be laden with exhilarating options that leave us all awestruck on a weekly basis, but if there’s one man in the defensive quarters who really heightens the heart rate and gets the blood pumping, it’s the ever dependable right-back in our ranks, Ryan Fredericks. Cameron Ramsey looks at his potential impact in the final.
Fredericks has made the right channel his own throughout the 2017-18 Championship campaign and is regarded as one of the division’s most effective full-backs, so much so that over the recent months he’s attracted interest from an array of notable Premier League outfits, allegedly including Arsenal, amongst others.
Searing pace and ankle breaking twists, jinks and shimmies are all defining qualities within ‘Freddo’s’ locker, alluring traits which undoubtedly make him a troublesome, missile-propelled handful to contend with, especially at the level he currently administers his flourishing trade.
Though many believe that the 25-year-old is better suited to hounding and probing oppositions further up the flanks, Fredericks’ tenacious approach to his defensive responsibilities dictates that he’s a disruptive influence in virtually every department across the park, as quite simply, no given opponent on their day is physically able to tame his ferocious appetite to create threatening opportunities for he and his teammates to feed from, often to devastating effect.
In 44 accomplished Championship appearances this term, Fredericks has supplied his colleagues with 9 assists, an abundant tally which holds his name aloft as one of the more productive in the division, and though over the duration of the current campaign he’s managed to accumulate 10 yellow cards, the former Bristol City man is certainly no villain amongst the club’s faithful following.
The only notable shortcomings in Fredericks’ game is the space he leaves behind himself if dispossessed in the final third and occasionally, despite being a studied distributor of the ball, an air of complacency plagues his decision making whilst squaring up his immediate adversary in pivotal phases of play – should he offload and stretch, sit and consolidate, or send them for a cold, soggy, turf topped hot-dog?
I like to think that we’d all agree that the latter option is the more appealing, but it’s not always beneficial to our prosperity on the counter attack as, whilst not a particularly regular occurrence, occasionally his efforts are thwarted. As we in the terraces struggle to fathom how he was intercepted, a frantic foot race has ensued in the opposite direction, leaving our defensive shape vulnerable and our rearguard compromised.
Now, Aston Villa are a contingent which will aim to break us in the same vein, particularly through Albert Adomah, who will strive to menace down that right flank throughout the play-off final on Saturday.
Villa’s propensity to switch wingers throughout means that Matt Targett is just as likely to duel with the athletic Ghanaian on the day, but this means that Robert Snodgrass will presumably confront Fredericks at some point, a wily, experienced midfielder who knows this division well.
Snodgrass, 30, may not have the dazzling speed that Fredericks reserves in his legs, but he does have a wand of a left foot on him, capable of unleashing a bountiful supply to Villa’s attackers in the danger area. Ultimately, our man has to be ready to throw himself on the line to ensure that the Scotsman’s impact is suppressed, even if that means taking a pinpoint whip to the body in a dangerous area.
If Fredericks contains Snodgrass and stifles those alarming killer balls of his, the one time England u19 international, proudly on our books, will have the freedom of the right wing, because as it’s been previously been stated, once the trailblazing defender travels past the halfway line and flexes his offensive tendencies, no professional on the planet is realistically capable of snaring the Whites’ very own Road Runner, twinned with Speedy Gonzales… and Sonic the Hedgehog.