The only downside for Stoke City after they thrashed Hull City 5-1 last week was the news that Joe Allen would be facing a lengthy period on the sidelines.
The Welsh international suffered a ruptured Achilles against the Tigers and he was ruled out for the rest of the season.
Of course, recent events mean we don’t know when the football season will return but it’s still pretty safe to say that Allen won’t be involved when Michael O’Neill’s men do return to the pitch.
And, his absence will present others with an opportunity and one man who needs to grasp that is Jordan Cousins.
The summer signing has endured a mixed first campaign with the Potters, featuring in only 12 games, but our graphic shows that he has contributed in certain ways.
Clearly, the standout aspect of Cousins game is the work he does defensively and whilst that isn’t what Allen was renowned for, the ex-Swansea man was playing in a deeper midfield role under O’Neill.
Therefore, Cousins should be able to bring his qualities to that position and doing the dirty side of the game, such as making those interceptions and blocks could allow the likes of Nick Powell and Sam Clucas to flourish further up the pitch.
That’s not to say Allen wouldn’t be missed, he clearly would, but with Clucas and Powell, among others, the Potters are well-stocked for midfielders who want to play on the front foot and push forward.
Having those two in the team could also make up for Cousins weaknesses, as he isn’t good enough on the ball – as his pass success rate proves.
Today’s higher or lower Stoke City quiz – Can you score 15 out of 15?
That’s an area he needs to keep working on but the boss could simplify his role by telling Cousins to do the defensive side and keep his passing short, ensuring his teammates are taking more creative responsibility.
Since taking over in November, O’Neill has improved Stoke significantly and a lot of that has been because each player knows their roles and there has been a good balance to the team.
Allen’s injury threatens to disrupt that but whilst he doesn’t possess the same individual quality, the team could keep picking up results if Cousins can slot in and do specific jobs to help the team function properly.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.