NCM picks versus Stockport County

Last updated : 04 January 2008 By Paul Smith

Considered by many as Notts' most in-form player, Kevin Pilkington will keep his number one jersey, and rightly so. Tim Sandercombe is featured in the matchday magazine tomorrow talking about his frustration at a lack of oppurtunities, but he is unlikely to get many more if Pilkington continues to perform well.

Defence: Guy Branston
will be available for selection for the first time and must be a candidate to start, despite an excellent clean sheet for the back four at Hereford on New Years Day. He should start given that he is on just a one month deal and will be desperate to do well. McParland brought him in to lead others, and leadership has been badly lacking at Meadow Lane recently. His inclusion should be alongside youngster Krystian Pearce who has been a superb signing. That would see Adam Tann switch to right back as he hasn't disgraced himself and Lee Canoville remains error prone there. On the left Stephen Hunt has done very well, and should maintain his place.

Midfield: Andy Parkinson
finally gave a performance of any note at Hereford, and looked more like his older self as he took on the Bulls defence and got good balls into the box. Therefore he deserves a further chance on the right. In the centre Richard Butcher and Neil MacKenzie are easily Notts' best available midfielders and have proved they can work hard together, even if there most natural instinct is to attack. That didn't seem to matter as Notts defended superbly as a team at Hereford. On the left new boy Felix Bastians could prove to be a great signing and should go there in place of Austin McCann who should be commended for his performances there despite being a full-back naturally.

It appears to be Lawrie Dudfield and one other at the moment. With no further signing in place there, despite the obvious need, that will continue to be the case. Dudfield isn't scoring himself, but his overall play has been exceptional. His partner should be either Hector Sam or Spencer Weir-Daley but neither have covered themselves in glory. Sam was slightly better at Hereford than Weir-Daley was against Rotherham and gets the nod on that basis.