Burton Albion‘s win over Wimbledon was their fifth on the bounce and became their 8th win in ten matches since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink returned to the club. The main reason for this revival has been the defence, they’ve kept six clean sheets during the run and no one has been more key than Hayden Carter.
The on-loan Blackburn Rovers defender has played every minute under Hasselbaink and has formed an unbreakable partnership with veteran Michael Bostwick. We look at how big Carter’s impact has been and where he might be playing his football next season.
Carter Key to Resurgent Burton
Replacing Sam Hughes
When on-loan Leicester City defender Sam Hughes went down with an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a defeat to Doncaster Rovers in December, things looked bleak for Burton’s defence, which was already the league’s worst. Hughes had been one of the only positives in the Brewers’ doomed season. They went onto concede 14 goals in three games before Carter’s arrival but he has made a instant impact.
Carter scored the winner in his debut against Gillingham and also helped Burton to their first clean sheet of the season. He’s replaced the tackling ability the Brewers lacked in the absence of Hughes and complements Michael Bostwick‘s game perfectly with his speed. His ability to score also replaced Hughes’, who scored two before his injury.
Ability to Clear His Lines
Something Burton was struggling with before Carter’s arrival was crossing into the box but the 21-year-old along with the revived Bostwick have cut this threat out completely. Carter averages 5.8 clearances per game, enough for 2nd in League One, and Burton has only conceded one goal directly from a cross since, the opener against Charlton Athletic.
Burton’s wingers have helped cut out crosses being put in but once they get through there are not much better in the league at stopping them than Carter. Even if the cross gets through Carter he’s there to block the shot at goal. His 3.5 accurate long balls a game, is second in Burton’s squad, proving that his clearances aren’t just hopeful punts up the pitch either.
One of Burton’s biggest goal threats this season have been from set-pieces, whether they are Tom Hamer‘s long throws or Joe Powell‘s corners, the Brewers can rely on their defence for goals. All of Burton’s centre-backs have scored a goal, which takes the pressure away from the attackers.
Hayden Carter has scored crucial goals. His goal against Gillingham was the first of the Hasselbaink and Dino Maamria era and without his goal against Peterborough United, Burton would’ve been hit back late on. None of the parent club Blackburn Rovers’ defenders have scored a league goal this season so they could certainly do with his goal threat in their squad.
Carter Is an All-Round Good Defender
The 21-year old has proven to be one of League One’s better defenders since his arrival and with years of development ahead of him, he is definitely one to keep an eye out for. He’s yet to be dribbled past while playing for Burton and ranks in the top five for clearances (1st), interceptions (5th), and tackles (3rd).
The Englishman’s only weakness comes in the heading department, he wins just 46% of his aerial duels but the aerial ability of Bostwick cancels this weakness out when the two partners each other. Carter is an all-around good defender who could play just as well in a high-line as a low one which allows Burton to be flexible in the tactics they use.
Carter Has Options for Next Season
Blackburn have the 8th worse defence in the Championship this season something which is seriously denting their playoff hopes. Carter has revitalized Burton’s defence and deserves the chance to do the same for Blackburn. If Rovers decide that Carter is not ready to make the leap up to the Championship, Hasselbaink and The Brewers will welcome him back with open arms.
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