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Ireland's scare

Stephen Ireland has spoken about the recent incident where he was taken to hospital following the Fulham win:
"Thankfully it wasn't too serious because at the time I thought that was the end of me but I don't even know what it was. I've had every test that there is and still don't know what it was.

"It took me a while to get right but I'm back on track. Everything is looking positive."
Following his return to fitness he has yet to force his way back into the starting line up, but following a fourth successive draw at the weekend, there has been plenty of talk on the blogs about the need to alter the formation that has been used in recent games.

Admittedly three of the four draws have come away from home, but there is a feeling that we have lacked creativity and guile, missing the spark that can turn a point into a victory. The natural answer to this of course is Ireland, so successful during 2008/09 but yet to truly get going this season - first playing in a more withdrawn role before spending recent games on the sidelines.

There is a nice discussion in the comments section of this post over at TLDORC where much of the talk has centred over the role of Nigel de Jong and whether his inclusion is inhibiting our attacking options.

For what it's worth I don't the issue is playing a midfielder whose primary purpose is to stall the opposition, but switching from the 4-3-3 seen earlier in the season. I can see why Hughes made the switch with a series of away games, but looking ahead to Saturday weare at home to Burnley - who have a miserable away record this season - so my guess is he goes with a more attacking look to the side.

Rather than exclude de Jong though, I think Shaun Wright-Phillips makes away. With both Barry and de Jong in the centre, this would allow Ireland at the head of the midfield trident. Not quite a fantasista but more forward than so far this season to supplement the front three (likely Bellamy, Adebayor and Tevez).

Back at home, and in a more comfortable formation, this should see us return to winning ways.