Bingham was still working on his rebuilding of the N. Irish team, but there were signs that it wasn’t going to go their way this time around.
Bingham had used a 4-5-1 with Donaghy as a defensive midfielder when away, a 4-4-2 when at home with a view to attack. There were positives to be taken from the defensive strategy, while they looked quite inept in the attacking department. The last three matches had seen them create almost nil goal scoring opportunities (against difficult opposition, but still).
Allen McKnight had made the number 1 jersey his own. But what if he lost his place in West Ham to Phil Parkes? Phil Hughes was the deputy, and Tommy Wright was also in contention.
No doubt that McClelland and McDonald were the trusted constellation in central defence. Worthington was also a regular on the left side. The new Manchester U. signing Mal Donaghy would take the right back – if he was moved up to midfield, young Rogan would take his place. Bingham could also rely on solid professionals Gary Fleming and Paul Ramsey for the right back spot, while Rogan seems to have been versatile enough to take the left back as well if needed.
Bingham could vary his team selection of wide players: there was Penney on the right hand side, Black on the left, and Dennison could play on both sides. However, it seemed like Black more and more was a regular in the team. In central midfield, Danny Wilson was playing well and looked a first team choice. Young Michael O’Neill also had confidence, but Bingham increasingly started to see him as a wide midfielder and for example brought David McCreery back to the team to bring some experience. As an alternative to O’Neill to support the forwards, there was also Kevin Wilson, who looked to be fighting his way back in the team.
Colin Clarke had been the best performer so far. Jimmy Quinn had struggled since his transfer to Leicester City and was placed on the bench when Bingham played 4-5-1. Kevin Wilson could also do a job here.