A left-sided centre-back was one of the key transfer priorities of the summer, Callum Doyle is the player who arrives to fill that void. At 18 years old and from one of the top academies in the country, Doyle already has a season of senior football under his belt, at Sunderland on top of that. That spell in the North-East started impressively but faded as he became fatigued with the rigours of a congested fixture list. If Doyle can regain the sharpness he showed early last season, he should be able to handle the Championship relatively comfortably, but it will likely be up to Mark Robins to manage him carefully throughout the campaign to avoid the same burn-out he suffered from last year.
Callum Doyle is, first and foremost, a ball-playing centre-back, as would be expected from a Manchester City youth-team graduate. Doyle is likely to be the team’s main distributor of the ball out from defence and, if the players ahead of him can make enterprising runs forward, he could prove to be very effective at quickly changing defence into attack. The concern with Doyle is that he is fairly weak physically and was particularly susceptible in the air for Sunderland last season. In an uncompromising division that is the Championship, teams will target that and it will be up to Callum Doyle to demonstrate that he has developed physically and technically in that aspect of his game over the summer.
The risk with this signing is that Callum Doyle is incredibly young and may not be quite ready to make the step up to Championship football, leaving the team looking weak on the left side of the defence. While there is cover for Doyle in the scenario that he struggles, last season demonstrated what a difference to the team’s fluency in possession it can make to have a good left-footed centre-back on the left of the back three. The upside is that Callum Doyle has the technical ability to provide a level of quality on the ball at the back that the team hasn’t really had in recent times. If those physical deficiencies can be covered for or improved upon, Doyle could be a stand-out player in this team, but that may prove to be a significant if.