The club captain, Liam Kelly has been the one constant in the side since our days in League Two. Initially forming a midfield pairing with Michael Doyle where he was the one with the freedom to push on and play a box-to-box role, Kelly has since stepped into Michael Doyle’s boots as both the midfield anchor and leader of the team. It is in this latter role that has seen Liam Kelly’s qualities as both a footballer and personality come to the fore, providing the platform for young, talented players around him to excel.
As one of the few experienced players in the squad, Liam Kelly’s nous and ability to manage game situations has been important in guiding the younger players in the squad through games. We saw last season when Liam Walsh was used as the sole defensive midfielder in the side that opposition attacks seemed more dangerous, even though Walsh’s ability to win the ball may have been on a par with Kelly’s. Kelly has also shown a range of passing at times that has helped the team play out from defence, although he generally keeps things simple, handing the responsibility to our other midfielders.
As things stand, Liam Kelly is a player who is of vital importance to our ability to step up to the Championship. The concern is whether Kelly has the mobility and technical ability to cope with the pace of the Championship. With no natural back-up to him in the squad – both in terms of his role in the side and as one of few experienced leaders we have on the books – Mark Robins would have to completely change the dynamic of the team in order to adapt.