Sotan Tanabe picked up his 4th yellow card of the season on Wednesday night and is therefore suspended for this match, but that may actually be a blessing in disguise for a couple of reasons, as it allows Tanabe, who has faded out of games quite noticably in the past month, to recharge his batteries, while opening the door for Naohiro Ishikawa to make his first start of the season.
Ishikawa has been handled very carefully by the manager in his 13 appearances off the bench so far, but surely now this opportunity, with Tanabe missing, is the perfect time to unleash him from the start. The only possible reason I could see that not happening is if Big Bear decides to go with Hokuto Nakamura, who has been cooling his heels on the bench since his return from suspension thanks to the strong performances (and two goals) from Kenta Mukuhara.
Apart from that one enforced change there's no question about the rest of the XI keeping their places, but we might have a nice selection dilemma for the next league game at home to Okayama in a fortnight, with Roberto Cesar back in full training (finally!) following his calf strain, while of course Tanabe will be eligible to return for that one.
You'd expect to see The Salad play some part in the Emporer's Cup game at home to FC Kagoshima next Saturday, and if he gets through that unscathed, to return via the bench against Okayama. The only question remaining is who comes into the 18 with Tanabe out. I'd obviously like to see Jade North get the nod, and I believe he should as we may need extra defensive cover on the bench, but Kohei Shimoda is also a possibility if the manager decides he needs another midfielder.
Tokushima rose to 3rd on Wednesday night with a 1-0 win over Kumamoto, going above Tosu, who didn't play, and Chiba, who were stunned at home by Kyoto. I got to see that game, replayed on JSports1, and while they were decent value for their win, Tokushima didn't exactly set the world on fire. In fact, before Akihiro Sato scored the only goal of the game in the 27th minute, Kumamoto had seen more of the ball, with Tokushima content to play on the counter attack.