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McLeish Sets Sights on Simpson to Bolster Backline

The Express & Star claim that Alex McLeish has made Newcastle right back Danny Simpson one of his targets as he looks to strengthen his defensive ranks at his new club.

The 24-year-old was a mainstay in Newcastle’s side last season, playing 30 times in the league, and whether Pardew is willing to listen to offers is unknown with the future of his other starting full-back, Jose Enrique, still in doubt. Villa’s ranks at right and left back may be depleted next season as Kyle Walker has returned to Tottenham following his loan spell and the likes of Stephen Warnock and Habib Beye believed to be keen on moves away from the club, leaving Luke Young as the only senior full back who will almost certainly be at the club under Alex McLeish.

Whether Danny Simpson is a player of the calibre to strengthen the side I seriously doubt, and if the link is true than in my mind, the new manager needs to raise the bar in terms of targets. In his 30 appearances last season Simpson failed to score or pick up any assists and was booked 4 times. His pass success rate was decent at 75%, though he only won 30% of his aerial duels, which for a defender is not great. In terms of defensive stats he made an average of 1.6 tackles a game, 1.8 interceptions a game, 3.2 clearances a game and 0.6 blocks a game.

Compared to Villa’s current right back Young, his pass success rate was slightly higher, (75-72), though his aerial dominance was way below Luke’s 48%. He made less tackles per game (1.6-2.9), less clearances (3.2-4) and less blocks (0.6-0.8).

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