Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Squirrels Squad - Winter Changes

A glance at a calendar with even the most modest level of functionality would indicate that we're at the start of a New Year, so what better time to review the changes that have so far been made to the Squirrels squad which finished the 2010 season and is being prepared for 2011. Who's stayin', who's gone, who's arrived and who don't we know about yet. So let's get goin'.

Goalkeepers

Staying: Reserve Keiki Shimizu has signed up for what will be his fourth year at Ardija following graduation from Ryutsu Keizai University. And the number of games Shimizu has played so far in his professional career? That would be none whatsoever.

Gone: Daisuke Tada came on loan from Cerezo Osaka at the start of 2010 and has gone back to the Cherries after not getting a sniff of Squirrels first team action. Oh, wait, he was an unused substitute in one of the Nabisco Cup matches.

Don't Know Yet: The big two, i.e. first choice Takashi Kitano and his deputy Koji Ezumi. It would be good - very good - to see both of them stay on, but you couldn't blame Ezumi at 32 for feeling less inclined to spend another year sitting on the bench at Omiya when he could be playing regular first team football elsewhere.

Defenders

Staying: In the middle of the back four, 2010's unexpected star Shusuke Tsubouchi has made permanent his loan from Vissel Kobe; Yuki Fukaya stays, as does younger reserve Shunsuke Fukuda. On the sides, veteran Arata Sugiyama probably can't expect to be much more than a substitute, but having arrived in the summer Norio Suzuki was a valuable addition to the squad in both defence and midfield.

Gone: After a very impressive 2009 and a rather less impressive 2010, Mato Neretljak heads back to the K-League. Rumours still circulate that his replacement might be a returning Leandro; it all seems to depend on whether Fluminense will offer him more money to stay with them in Brazil.

Arrived: Kim Yong Gwon, a South Korean U21 international signed from FC Tokyo. Impossible to say how he might fit into the team, especially given how much Jun Suzuki changed things around in defence during 2010.

Don't Know Yet: Of course Taishi Tsukamoto isn't in a position to play football, but an update from the club as to his current situation would be appreciated; Shotaro Kudo was promoted from the youth squad in September, but there hasn't been any mention of him since then.

Midfielders

Staying: Jun Kanakubo had an excellent rookie season on the wing, youth and U21 international Takuya Aoki finally eased his way into the team and although Kazuhiro Murakami had something of a disappointing year after moving from Kawasaki Frontale, he did enough as an overlapping sideback to earn another deal. Taisuke Miyazaki's permanent move up to the first team squad is confirmed, Masakazu Kihara will hope to make the kind of impact in 2011 that fellow newcomer Kanakubo did in 2010 and Hayato Hashimoto looks set to be a squad player.

Gone: Ryohei Arai and Kohei Tokita will stay on loan for 2011 at FC Gifu and Oita Trinita respectively. An Yong Hak was released and has since signed for promoted Kashiwa Reysol, as well as being named in the North Korean squad for the forthcoming Asian Cup finals. Lee Ho, too, was let go; rumours that Shimizu S-Pulse were interested don't seem to have come to anything yet.

Arrived: Japan U21 international Keigo Higashi from Oita. Will the signing of Higashi mean that anyone else can leave...?

Don't Know Yet: No news so far on Chikara Fujimoto, Shin Kanazawa or reserve winger Tomoya Uchida; Seo Yong Duk is still loaned out at FC Tokyo and there haven't been any indications whether he'll stay there, come back to Omiya or leave.

Forwards

Staying: Key man Rafael sticks around for his third season in an Omiya shirt; Lee Chun Soo wants to try and get back into the South Korean national side - although he'd probably prefer to play at Omiya as a winger rather than a striker - and although young Daisuke Watabe has been used in midfield and even as a sideback rather than up front, he's started to show signs of first team quality.

Gone: Big striker Yoshihito Fujita heads back to J2 to re-unite with his old Sagan Tosu coach Yasuyuki Kishino at Yokohama FC.

Arrived: Shintaro Shimizu comes from local High School champions Seibudai.

Don't Know Yet: There's been no announcement on Masahiko Ichikawa, but more seriously than that it's not good that we're still waiting on top scorer Naoki Ishihara.

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