Sean O'Driscoll convinced Skuse and Elliott are a winning combination for Bristol City
Bristol City head coach Sean O’Driscoll sees no reason why Cole Skuse and Marvin Elliott cannot forge an effective central midfield partnership in the npower Championship.
Quick to write players off when things are not going well, some City fans have questioned whether the pair are compatible, while others have suggested neither is worth his place in the starting line-up.
Yet the manner in which Skuse and Elliott combined to win the midfield battle against a talented Brighton side at Ashton Gate in midweek suggests these two have a major part to play in City’s on-going fight against relegation.
If people have been lacking in appreciation for the long-serving pair, it is possibly because opportunities for them to forge a partnership have been severely curtailed by injury in recent years.
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But O’Driscoll works with both on a daily basis on the training ground and is in no doubt.
He said: “You have to let Marvin play the way Marvin wants to play. He gives you a presence in midfield and Cole gives you a little bit of quality.
“I think there is a really good combination when they play together. I think they both understand, Cole especially, what needs to be done.
“You have to let Marvin have his head to a degree. He breaks so many things up. Sometimes, he is in the wrong position and you think ‘my God, he has still done a good job.’
“He leads by example, he never gives up and he is a threat in both boxes. That is what you want from your captain.
“He is somebody who did not start in the 11 when we first came through the door, but then the injury to Cole gave him his chance and he has never looked back. He has been outstanding.”
An assured presence in the engine room and a phenomenal athlete, Skuse was missed while recovering from a knee injury sustained in a 2-0 win over Watford in January.
But he announced his return to the starting line-up in fine style against Brighton, bossing the midfield from start to finish.
O’Driscoll added: “Cole is very intelligent for a footballer and he understands quite a few things. In fact, there are quite a few of them like that, which has surprised me.
“Jon Stead has been terrific in understanding his role and absorbing information and Cole is the same. Those players have played a massive part in changing our fortunes.”