Football League Expert & Columnist
Substance and style
Peter Beagrie blogs on the qualities of Everton new boy John Stones and League One's best 'keepers.
Last Updated: 01/02/13 5:23pm
Peter Beagrie is here every week on skysports.com answering YOUR Football League questions.
The former winger, who played over 770 games, representing clubs in all four tiers of the English footballing pyramid, including Manchester City, Everton, Bradford, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe, and Grimsby, forms part of the Sky Sports punditry team for all the big matches in the Championship, League One and League Two.
So if you have a poser for Peter, whether it's about your team, a player, match or incident that has caught your eye, or a wider point on the Football League, make sure you send it in.
Read below for this week's column where Beags gives his take on Everton new boy John Stones, the best goalkeeper in League One, and whether Torquay can make a push for the League Two play-offs...
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FULL-BACK OF QUALITY
Hi Peter, In a previous column you praised Championship full-backs Kieran Trippier and John Brayford. In your opinion, where does John Stones, who has just joined Everton from my beloved Barnsley, rank in comparison? Cheers, Liam Ashfield (Barnsley fan)
BEAGS SAYS: John's meteoric progression was monitored by a host of Premier League clubs, with Chelsea, Wigan, Aston Villa and Swansea all keen to pluck the 18-year-old, but Everton - a fantastic club, with a great manager and supporters - have now secured his signature to give competition to Toffees stalwart Tony Hibbert and Irish youngster Sheamus Coleman in the right-back position. Stones is a very gifted young footballer and has all the attributes required of a modern-day full-back; he has athletic prowess, excellent distribution, is cool in possession and can also operate at centre-half. Former Barnsley manager Keith Hill and current incumbent David Flitcroft have also spoken very highly of John's temperament, describing him as a model professional and a joy to work with. I wish him all the best at Goodison Park, one of the bastions of English football, while it is great to see that some of the reported £3million fee the Tykes received for Stones has been put towards bringing in Chris O'Grady, Jason Scotland and Rory Delap. Each of those players has bundles of experience and a point to prove - though whether they can help Barnsley secure the points they need to stave off relegation is debateable.
Hi Peter, Paul Dickov led Oldham to a great FA Cup win over Liverpool but how would you assess the job he has done overall since taking over at Boundary Park in 2010? Thanks, Michael Lloyd (Oldham fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Congratulations, Michael, on your club's win over the red half of Liverpool - which was a much-needed shot in the arm for Dickov, the players and supporters - and best of luck against the blue half in the next round of the FA Cup. Robbie Simpson, pivotal in the giant-killing of Brendan Rodgers' side, has admitted that Oldham's players have underperformed this season, and through some will say it is Paul's job to motivate and get the best out of his charges, things are working against him. The budget makes a mockery of the chairman's quotes that Oldham should be looking at the Championship rather than League One survival, with Dickov having to wheel and deal and fill his side with loanees over the last seasons, something that is part and parcel of a Football League manager's job description, but doesn't aid consistency. The Boundary Park side have not been blessed with the best of luck so far this campaign, with some performances deserving more points than were accrued, but Dickov has made three brilliant acquisitions this week, bringing in strikers Chris Iwelumo and Lee Barnard, who will provide experience, physicality and goal-scoring ability; and talent and athleticism in the shape of Reading midfielder Jordan Obita. I think these deals will secure Oldham's League One status and Paul, who has never shirked a challenge in his life, is doing a sterling job under the circumstances and should be charged with navigating that path to safety.
Hi Peter, Do you think Torquay can make a late push for the League Two play-offs? Ta, Alex Richards (Torquay fan)
BEAGS SAYS: After a six-game winless streak I was left wondering about Torquay's promotion credentials; they were showing signs nervousness and conceding late goals, bad habits to get into at this important stage of the season. However, a win over neighbours Exeter sets the Gulls up nicely for February, a month that will make or break their chances of getting out of League Two. United will undertake seven titanic tussles - Cheltenham (a); Fleetwood (h); Rotherham (h); Rochdale (a); Aldershot (a); Port Vale (h); Wycombe (h) - and be presented with a great opportunity to reel in the likes of Fleetwood and Rotherham in particular. Torquay must gain 15 points out of a possible 21 to enter the run-in with any hopes of being involved in the promotion shake-up, but they will be delighted to see Rene Howe (pictured) return to goal-scoring form, even if it is from the penalty spot.
Hi Peter, Cardiff look nailed on to get promoted from the Championship, but who do you reckon are favourites to come second? Thanks, Tom Mason (Crystal Palace fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Leicester are, for me, favourites to join Cardiff in the Premier League next term; I did fancy Hull to pip them but have changed my mind now that Foxes boss Nigel Pearson (pictured) beat off competition from an array of Championship clubs to sign Chris Wood. The New Zealander's arrival and presence of David Nugent - a jewel at this level who is not only a great goalscorer but a scorer of great goals, not to mention a gem in the dressing room due to his sunny disposition - Jamie Vardy, Martyn Waghorn and Paul Gallagher means City have an abundance of firepower up front, a trio of tricky wingers in Lloyd Dyer, Ben Marshall and Anthony Knockaert and the best defence in the division. Leicester have a squad good enough to rival anyone's and large enough to cope with any injury, as proved with 10-goal-a-season man Andy King replacing fellow midfielder Matty James for the Foxes' last two games. There is still a long way to go though, Tom, and with your club signing Kevin Phillips and Stephen Dobbie on deadline day, Ian Holloway could yet guide the Eagles into the top two. Good luck for the rest of the season.
Hi Peter, Who do you think is the best goalkeeper in League One? Thanks, Paul Shadwell (Crewe fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Thanks for your question, Paul, and congratulations on your club's promotion last season and subsequent solid start to life back in League One following the big-money departures of your young guns. There are many competent 'keepers in League One and I am going to name two who have continued to impress me: Joe Murphy (Coventry) and Simon Moore (Brentford). Murphy is a fantastic goalie; he is a fierce competitor who marshals his back four like a drill sergeant, deals with back-passes brilliantly, and distributes the ball excellently, with both his feet and hands. Joe is not the biggest but he commands his box and punches very well, and I know for a fact that when Nigel Adkins, no mean goalkeeper himself, was at Scunthorpe he rated him very highly. Moore (pictured), meanwhile, is a former member of the prolific Southampton academy, but has remained patient and served his apprenticeship at various non-league outposts and has now established as the Brentford's first choice. At six-feet-four, Moore is a massive presence between the sticks but has no problem getting down and is an excellent shot-stopper, too, mainly due to his magnificent footwork and starting position.