Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Nugent could be final piece of puzzle

I think I can speak for many Clarets when I say how surprised I was at the sudden announcement of the signing of David Nugent, on loan from Portsmouth for six months, with a view to a permanent deal.

All the talk was of Daniel Cousin of Hull joining Burnley, a tall, combative striker that would hassle and harry defenders. A bigger Martin Paterson, if you will.

But instead Owen Coyle surprised us all by pulling Nugent out of the hat. The striker is well known to Clarets having been Preston North End's star player for two or three years, and always seemed to bring out his best in games against us.

The move to Portsmouth probably came at the wrong time for him. £5m looked like a lot of money when the transfer happened, but PNE always get top buck for their players and Nugent was no exception.

He was unlucky in some respects with the managerial merry-go-round at Fratton Park, as well as Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe forming a lethal partnership together, that he didn't get a fair crack of the whip. Many of his appearances in Portsmouth blue came from the flank, and even more from the bench.

At only 24 his best years should be ahead of him, although it's probably not too harsh to suggest this could be his last chance to show hiw quality in the top flight. If he fails at Burnley, he will almost certainly play out his career in the Football League.

How he fits into Owen Coyle's plans remains to be seen. I see Nugent as a similar player to Robbie Blake. He's diminutive but can hold the ball, uses it intelligently, and is capable of magical strikes at goal. Whether he turns out to be the long-term replacement for the little magician is unlikely, but he certainly adds something extra to our striking options.

Where this leaves Jay Rodriguez is something Owen Coyle will have to consider closely. Rodriguez scored five from the bench last season and had we not been promoted would have played a major part this season. With Fletcher and now Nugent coming in, he finds himself down the pecking order, and unable to make the matchday squad of 18. A loan spell could do him the world of good, as it did for Kyle Lafferty, who found his scoring boots at Darlington.

But the move suits all parties. Portsmouth get another player off their wage bill, we get another attacking option, a low-risk one at that, and Nugent gets another shot at the big time, at a similar club to Preston, where he was so successful.

And if anyone can get the best of him, it's the man who rejuvenated the careers of Brian Jensen, Clarke Carlisle, Steven Caldwell and Robbie Blake to name but a few - Owen Coyle.

This article was written for FansOnline.

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