‘Irreplaceable’ McLean is just the ticket
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Kenny McLean is ‘irreplaceable’ in Norwich City’s midfield.
Canaries’ chief Daniel Farke insists the Scottish international is one of the few players under his command to have adapted to the Premier League.
McLean has become a mainstay in Farke’s central midfield, when fit, and the 28-year-old would appear to be a key part of the Championship fightback.
“Kenny for me last season was unbelievably important and he has developed further,” said Farke. “He is a versatile, all-round player with the game to play a number of positions.
“Let’s be honest, we have some players with great possession skills, or finding a key pass, or maybe delivering a set-piece. But he is probably our most complete midfielder. He is competitive, his workload and his endurance are good and he is definitely our best defensive header.
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“He is aggressive in the duels and our most dynamic midfielder.
“He is also composed on the ball, and a left-footer. He offers many skills, and that physicality at this level is irreplaceable for us. If you can dominate the ball in a game then maybe the defensive skills are not as important.
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“But at this level we need players who are capable to invest a lot without the ball.”
McLean has also emerged as one of the stronger personalities in a youthful City dressing room.
“He is a great lad in the dressing room. If things are not working he will say so,” said the Norwich boss. “He is not scared on the pitch, encouraging younger players but also criticising them when needed.
“Even if he is not in the starting line-up he is good for the mood. Each club needs a player with this personality.
“When he isn’t on the pitch at this level we lack physicality and pace. Without certain players we look weak. You could say the same as to why Alex Tettey has played nearly each and every minute.”
Norwich’s vulnerability from set-pieces has been a major theme in their failed survival bid.
“Of course it is not good enough,” said Farke. “We have to be more competitive in this area. We are one of the weaker sides in this area at this level. We need to be smarter, and that is a learning curve.
“Yes we need to win headers in our box but if you go back to the West Ham game the second set piece we conceded showed our naivety as well. Mark Noble, a very experienced player, was escaping outside the area and there was no need to concede a foul.
“Then I have my two best headers on the pitch lose out to (Michail) Antonio.”