Expert analysis: Irwin rates the full-backs
How does Denis Irwin assess our current full-backs? The legend reveals all, beginning with the returning Luke Shaw...
LUKE SHAW “He is quick and really good at attacking. It is a real shame that he got injured. He has only played three games this season so it will be great to have him back, because he is strong and he is getting a bit of experience now. “As a footballer, injuries are part of parcel of your career, but to get so many in such a short time is unfortunate, especially when he had a really good pre-season. To get through three games this season and to then get injured was a real blow. After the broken leg he had in Holland, he had to be mentally strong to come back from that. As a footballer, you need to be physically strong and mentally strong as well. Injuries can certainly play a part in that and, I tell you what, he has bounced back really well before and it will be great to have him back again. “He is a huge attacking force and he should score more goals with the ability he has got. He scored against Leicester last season and that is what he came as, because he was fantastic at Southampton as a young lad in a hugely attacking role. These days, you have to be able to attack to be a modern-day footballer and Luke can certainly do that.” ASHLEY YOUNG “He is very dependable and can play on the right or left. He has been hugely reliable and has a lot of experience there. He is another player who has moved back after starting as a winger, but he is very solid and is vastly experienced at 34. Many players are coming back from being a winger to playing in the full-back position, because that is the way the game has gone. It's a different avenue of attacking, down the wings, and he has been ever so reliable here down the years. He very rarely gets injured and is always ready to be called upon. His delivery has always been great and is a huge asset in that respect.” BRANDON WILLIAMS “He has done extremely well, I have got to say that. I have seen him in the Under-23s before. He wasn't part of the pre-season when we had five or six young lads who came with us, and then he just bounced onto the scene. You only get through sometimes because of injuries, to Luke in this instance, and the suspension of Ashley has also helped him. But I have got to say, in the few games he has played, he has not looked out of place and he has probably been our best player in most of those appearances. He is great going forward, is not afraid to overlap at any opportunity - as a modern-day full-back should do - and he is very comfortable on the ball as well. He is right-footed and there is nothing wrong with a right-footed left-back, so he has been a breath of fresh air and a good challenge to the likes of Luke and Ashley. “As a full-back you have obviously got to be able to tackle and, like I say, in the games he has played he has been our best player. We have talked about his attacking instincts, but he loves a tackle and looks like a really decent footballer as well so let's hope he continues in the same vein.” AARON WAN-BISSAKA “He came here with a hefty price tag and was obviously very, very good at Palace. Again, he is an ex-winger and he only had 15 months in the right-back position at Palace, but did extremely well and so well in fact that we spent a lot of money on him. He has settled in really well, is a really good defender, tackles a lot, gets his legs in when people don't expect it and he's slotted really well into that right-back spot. Defensively, this season, we have looked really solid. “He is quick and he has got those spidery legs, so he can get those tackles in. The one thing that really surprises me is that his positional sense is very, very good for a player who has predominantly played on the wing all of his life. He seems to get into some very, very good defensive positions.” DIOGO DALOT “We have not seen an awful lot of him, unfortunately, because of the injuries. He signed and was injured so we didn't really see him for two or three months. So he has not really had a run of games that would get him up to speed. He has great potential and particularly going forward, because he puts in a fantastic cross. He looks a strong boy as well. He is only young and has still got a lot to learn. It would be great to see him get a clean run, a few months without an injury, to get him going and give him that chance to challenge, not just to Aaron but also playing on the right wing.” “When we have played with three at the back, it suits him to play in that wing-back role. Attacking is his forte and putting crosses in, and quality crosses, is probably his biggest asset. In this day and age, your full-backs must be able to go forward. He is mobile, he is quick and he has quality.”