SCOTT Malone, Millwall’s newest left back, certainly doesn’t look the part.
His gangly 6ft2in frame and lengthy locks are more befitting a 90s Indie band rather than a rough and ready Championship football club. But appearances are deceiving.
Malone is a decent player. On early evidence he appears to be very much in the modern full-back mould: a natural footballer who focuses as much energy on attack as defence. Able to play left back or left midfield, he seems comfortable in possession and has a good attacking instinct.
But does he represent an answer to our left-back problem?
Since the Lions’ return to the Championship, the left-back berth has been a problem position. Regular Tony Craig, Scott Barron and Jordan Stewart – albeit in just the four appearances – all played without any great success or consistency.
Admittedly Craig retained a certain rigidity, though he never represented a long-term solution. No-one would ever doubt the commitment and hard work of Craig, or Barron for that matter, but Championship level appears a step too far.
And we never saw enough of Stewart to make any kind of judgement.
But with all three leaving the club during the summer it was a chance for some new blood and Malone certainly resembles that.
His first few games for Millwall have been encouraging. He scored his first goal in the 2-1 away win against Peterborough and has consistently shown a great energy and willingness to get forward at any opportunity.
Malone is keen to play an attacking role from left-back and has the ability to do it, which is definitely something we’ve missed these last few years.
During the recent home game against Middlesborough, Malone played a key part in the significant third goal, crossing brilliantly for Andy Keogh to score. We also saw him go close to scoring himself earlier in the half after an impressive Millwall counter attack.
Defensively there are still question marks. Millwall have conceded seven goals in the first four games with Malone ever-present, but with the imminent return to the team of captain Paul Robinson – and with that a more settled back four – we should begin to gain a better idea of Malone’s defensive ability. Time will tell.
But crucially though, Malone has breathed new life into a previously stagnant position in the side. Have we finally solved our left back conundrum? Far too soon to say, but the early signs are heartening.
Whatever happens his forays forward are bound to be an exciting feature this season – and if he can remain steady defensively – he could prove to be an important player.