O'Driscoll's way can bring the best out of Liam Fontaine
Sean O'Driscoll says he will avoid playing Liam Fontaine out of position in a bid to restore the Bristol City defender's shattered confidence.
Appointed first team captain last year, the Londoner represented a crucial plank in previous manager Derek McInnes' planning.
But a series of below-par performances allied to the team's inability to keep a single clean sheet since April served to undermine confidence and reduce Fontaine to a shadow of the player who helped the Robins stave off the threat of relegation last season.
Naturally left-footed, the former Fulham trainee was hardly helped when McInnes asked him to play as a right-sided centre-back, partnering first Lewin Nyatanga and then loan signing Stephen McManus.
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Although McInnes relieved him of the captaincy last month to allow him to concentrate on rediscovering his best form, Fontaine continued to struggle in a team that was shipping goals at an alarming rate.
Recalling the opening game of the season when Fontaine and Louis Carey formed a defensive bulwark which so nearly confounded O'Driscoll's Nottingham Forest, City's new head coach wasted no time in reuniting the pair at the heart of the back four at Leeds last weekend.
Restored to his strongest side and partnered by a natural right-footer, Fontaine responded in positive fashion, producing arguably his best performance of the campaign to restrict Leeds to a mere handful of chances at Elland Road.
Explaining his first team selection, O'Driscoll told The Post: "It was all about balance.
"Liam has had a tough time trying to play as a left footer on the right-hand side.
"It creates an imbalance and is really difficult to do. I think his confidence took a bit of a knock because of that.
"He is comfortable playing with Louis, because that puts Liam on his favoured side where he can perform more naturally.
"I thought the two of them played really well."
Carey made just eight appearances under McInnes this season, even though he has been fit and available for most of that time.
O'Driscoll did not hesitate to recall the veteran centre-back, who is arguably City's best defender even though he is now aged 36.
But he warned: "We have to be careful with Louis now he is 36. He is not going to play week in and week out, we understand that. There will be times when James Wilson comes in.
"But for the first game, it made sense to bring in people who are comfortable playing together."