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EFL Player in Focus: Ebanks-Landell looks imperious for Shrewsbury

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Shrewsbury defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell had the perfect night on Tuesday.

His side kept a clean sheet, so his close-range finish against Peterborough was the only goal of the game.

Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) discusses the defender and what makes him tick.

Promise at Wolves

Ethan Ebanks-Landell enjoyed a positive start to his professional career with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He contributed to Wolves’ League One title win in 2013-14, before making 21 Championship appearances in 2015-16, giving him plenty of senior experience at an advanced level of the EFL.

Success at Sheffield United

The Blades are rightly being lauded with praise up and down the country for their slick Premier League football, but Ebanks-Landell contributed to the start of their rise.

He played 34 games for Chris Wilder’s side in League One, when they stormed to top spot ahead of Bolton, chipping in with five goals including a brace against Port Vale in one match.

Sometimes, the one-time Bury loanee can be criticized for limited ability on the ball but Wilder, who has been credited with being a hugely innovative mind within the English game, saw enough in the defender to start him regularly.

Struggles at MK Dons

Considering the success Ebanks-Landell has had in the third tier, it is odd that he had difficulty at Milton Keynes Dons, with whom he suffered relegation in 2017-18.

There were question marks over his mobility, technique and discipline, with 11 yellow cards picked up that season in a rare year to forget.

Repaired Rochdale’s Rear- Guard

For much of Rochdale’s 2018-19 campaign, they were leaking goals at an alarming rate and looked destined for the drop – but that was before Ebanks-Landell came in.

After the defender arrived to shore things up in the middle of the back-three, they let in only 23 in his 15 starts and finished as high as 15 th , highlighting his influence.

Solid with Shrews

Interestingly, three of Ebanks-Landell’s most successful stints as a player have come in a back-three.

Sam Ricketts, the 26-year-old’s current manager at Shrewsbury Town, is very much wedded to 3-5-2 or some variation of that system; he likes his players to be familiar with that structure and thus uses it, even when pragmatically thinking there is not the necessity for three centre-backs.

That means that the centre-back has very often had two other defenders – normally Ro-Shaun Williams and Aaron Pierre – sitting very close to him for protection.

Aerial prowess

The above system negates Ebanks-Landell’s possible weaknesses – in that he is not particularly effective defending out in wide, open spaces.

The additional protection – Salop tend to have a back-five out of possession as well as a lot of midfield cover – feeds into the 6’2” defender’s hands.

It means opposing teams feel more inclined to cross the ball; Shrewsbury face on average 23 crosses per game, with no League One team facing more.

EEL has plenty of physicality and can be colossal in the air, which makes him a real menace in his own penalty box, so he thrives in the kind of situations that this Shrewsbury team is built to defend against.

Defensive Record

In Ebanks-Landell’s 11 league starts this season, the Shropshire outfit have kept as many as five clean sheets – almost one every two games.

It is thanks to that defensive resilience that Shrewsbury have moved up to 11 th in League One; just two points off the Play-Off places.

What Next?

It may be difficult to see Ebanks-Landell carving out a career for himself in the Premier League – although Cardiff’s Sol Bamba played 28 games last season at that level being eight years older than the defender

At 26, though, Ebanks-Landell is yet to hit his peak as a defender and any Championship club looking for a no nonsense, brave, aggressive centre-back who can be dominant in the air, may be interested in the West Bromwich-born battler.