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Brek Shea … a left back in the making?

Jan 20, 2013, 6:04 PM EST

Portrait of US player Brek Shea taken be

No sooner had Taylor Twellman’s news breaking Tweet started making the rounds last Friday, that FC Dallas’ Brek Shea had one foot in England as the newest member of Stoke City, than speculation had commenced that he was becoming a left back.

It’s Stoke City, after all. And they do like them some defense at the Britannia.

Personally, I’m not so sure the conversion of Shea to fullback would be imminent.  It is precisely because manager Tony Pulis and the Potters have been able to remain in the Premiership with a doctrine of defense-first that I don’t think the young left winger is bound for a move backward in the arrangement.

He’s certainly OK at the defensive tracking of a midfielder, but he’s not a natural fullback, which means he is not packaged up with a defenders’ instincts and tendencies. So, why would Pulis and Co. trust a midfielder to a responsibility that is so valued, so absolutely essential, around the Stoke City grounds?

If we’re talking about Shea as an outside back at a club where the defenders are encouraged to get up and down the flanks , that’s a different matter.

Either way, Twellman had an interesting take on it, taking the conversation to a different place altogether.

Talking to myself and Marc Stein this morning on Soccer Today, Twellman said he believes converting Shea to an outside back would be a good and productive thing.

His reasoning: For all the positive elements in the young man’s game, his audacity, his ranginess, his combination of speed, power and explosiveness … Shea’s numbers tell the story of an attacker who perhaps does not always make the best connections in the final third. Perhaps he would be better running at defenders from a different set of  starting points, with a different set of choices?

His last two years at FC Dallas, Shea has just six assists (while managing 14 goals). Some of that was down to Dallas’ lack of a quality striker over much of the period, but the point is well made.

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