Halford: I’ve got more to give in attacking role

Greg Halford celebrates scoring for Sheffield United in the Championship play-off semi-final

Greg Halford celebrates scoring for Sheffield United in the Championship play-off semi-final

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For a player who is predominantly considered a defender, it can sometimes be forgotten that Greg Halford has a very decent goalscoring record.

With five strikes to his name last season and two penalties this term, he can certainly weigh in with a few useful goals.

And he’s already made sure new boss Michael Appleton knows all about it.

As a gangly youngster at Colchester United, Halford sprung to prominence as a pacy winger who could often use his lengthy stride and natural athleticism to beat opponents.

While he was more often used in defensive roles after big-money moves to Reading, Sunderland and Wolves, a season-long loan at Sheffield United three seasons ago saw him rekindle his appetite for causing problems for opposition defences.

In a season that saw the Blades reach the play-off final – where they were beaten 1-0 by Burnley at Wembley – Halford was the club’s top goalscorer, with nine goals in all competitions playing in a wide role in midfield.

Under Steve Cotterill, Halford started as a right-back before switching to central defence.

But he reverted to the attacking full-back slot under caretaker duo Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray.

And after staying there under Appleton, the 26-year-old could now be looking for an even more advanced role.

Halford said: ‘Playing at right-back gives me a bit more license to get forward.

‘I sometimes get frustrated when I’m playing centre-back.

‘I want to get involved and play with the midfield and the strikers. You can’t really do that as a centre-back.

‘Over the first few days when he took over, we all went up and had a chat with him (Appleton).

‘He wanted to have a little chat with all the players so we could talk about what his plans were and introduce ourselves.

‘He told me: “I don’t know what your best position is but I’ve got an open mind on where you should play”.

‘So I told him: “In this league, I’ve done well playing further forward”.

‘At Sheffield United I was their top scorer playing as a striker or wide right or left midfielder.

‘I think I can hurt teams more if I’m in their half. I think I can offer a bit more.’

It’s perhaps down to his 6ft4in frame that he has been categorised as a defender. But he has more to his game.

And he believes his recent switch to right-back is a step in the right direction.

He said: ‘I’ve really enjoyed it at right-back and I think it gives us a bit more balance as well.

‘Early in the season, we were essentially playing with four centre-backs.

‘There was Aaron (Mokoena), myself, Ric (Ricardo Rocha) or Pearcey (Jason Pearce) and Tal (Ben Haim).

‘The change came at the right time and has balanced us up a bit more. With Joe (Mattock) coming in at left-back, he gives us even more natural balance down the left.

‘Me playing at right-back probably gives us the best of both worlds, defensively and attacking.

‘But I’m still finding my feet again in that position and it’s about knowing the right times to go forward and when to stay.

‘That will only come with more games.’