The numbers that highlight why the return of Kal Naismith gives Bristol City a big attacking boost

Wherever Nigel Pearson chooses to play him on the pitch, the expected return of Kal Naismith over the Easter break should provide a welcome boost for Bristol City at both ends of the pitch.

The importance of the utility player in Nigel Pearson’s side has been evident during his spells away from the side as he recovers from the second of two calf injuries. The 31-year-old Naismith has missed the last 11 matches after stopping in the first half of the win at Preston two months ago.

His injury set the tone for what was to come as his City teammates followed suit; The absences of Rob Atkinson and Tomas Kalas in defense have meant that Pearson has been tasked with playing an impromptu four-back defense that has seen Cam Pring come into the middle with Jay Dasilva taking over at left-back.

Prior to his injury, Pearson fielded Naismith as the deeper midfielder, maintaining that line between midfield and defense to provide that extra layer of protection. His passing range also meant he could play those progressive balls forward and hit the diagonals, helping to stretch the game by feeding wide men.

It raises the question of what position Naismith will occupy once he is back on the field. Naturally a central defender, the obvious cry given the ongoing back injuries would be to play him alongside Zak Vyner, allowing Pring to return to the flank where City can play to his strengths with those direct runs.

While it does give Pearson a welcome selection decision to make at the back, his return could also provide the missing link for City to move on. Saturday’s draw at home to Reading was very frustrating.

One of them is the fact that the conceded goal was easily avoidable, attributed to a lapse in concentration. The other reason was knowing that City should have ended the game well before Lucas Joao’s 72nd-minute equalizer given their dominance throughout the 90 minutes.

Kal Naismith could return to action to face Stoke on Friday(Image: Robbie Stephenson/JMP)

The locals got into positive positions but there was a lack of forcefulness on the last ball, with centers that collided with a wall of blue and white rings. It’s becoming a regular theme, particularly since the switch to four in January.


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