Spending the first half of the 2020-21 season with Rovers, Hayden Carter was in the matchday squad ten times.
However, he made just one solitary appearance – coming off the bench in a 2-1 win over Barnsley – as well as featuring three times for the U23s.
The lack of playing time saw Carter head out on loan, joining struggling Burton under new manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Since Carter’s arrival at the Brewers, they have risen out of the relegation zone and look strong contenders to avoid relegation, a seemingly near-impossible task when Hasselbaink arrived.
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Carter has been a regular at the back for Burton, making 13 appearances and playing every minute in the process. He’s also enjoyed a bit of goalscoring form, grabbing his first three goals in senior football.
We spoke to Rob from the ‘Burton Albion Analysis’ page (Twitter: @Rob_BAFC) about Carter’s time with the Brewers, with the full chat below:
Please note, all statistics are correct at the time of writing.
RC: How would you sum up Hayden Carter’s time with Burton so far?
Rob: You’d have to say it is going well. He made his debut in the away win against Gillingham, which was Jimmy and Dino’s first game in charge, and he scored the winner with a well taken volley from a free-kick. When he made his debut on the 9th January. it was before all of the new signings we have now had arrived, and so it was still essentially the same struggling squad that hadn’t yet kept a clean sheet this season and had conceded 19 goals in the previous five games. We kept a first clean sheet that day and have kept seven in total in his 13 games with us.
RC: We’ve seen a major upturn in form since JFH arrived at the club. What role has Carter played in that rise up the table?
Rob: He’s been a huge part of that. He’s played the full 90 in every one of the 13 games since Jimmy and Dino came in. In that time, he’s had four different partners, for various reasons, at centre back but he is the one constant.
When he joined us, I believe he had three senior appearances to his name. It’s testament to him that he’s been able to fit straight into an experienced squad and become an un-droppable member of the side.
RC: What would you say are Carter’s strengths and weaknesses?
Rob: Strengths, I would say his positioning. When I watch him, I don’t ever notice him being stretched or scrabbling. I think this is due to him having a good reading of the game, enabling him to get himself into a good starting position to then react to what comes next. He also has three goals in his 13 appearances for us which makes him our second leading scorer in the time period since he arrived at the club.
Weaknesses wise, you would have to look at his aerial duel win %. Of the CB’s at our club, his 50% puts him the lowest, and around middle of the pack for League One CB’s who have played more than 900 minutes this season. This could be due to him taking the lead on these duels against the target men when he isn’t partnered by Michael Bostwick. But, I would say for 6’2 he is quite a slender build and this may play a part in this. To be honest, I’m kind of scraping the barrel looking for something there as there isn’t anything obvious from general observation.
RC: Would you take him back on a loan/permanent deal in the summer?
Rob: For me, personally, I would absolutely have him back permanently or on loan, and I’m sure the club would to. But I think with how he’s performed this season, he and Blackburn would be looking at a higher level than League One for his development. To be honest, I have been asked about his performances by a scout from a Championship club via DM on Twitter. [It] Was a very brief request as to how he was performing, but maybe indicates he’s being noticed.
RC: Do you think he’ll be good enough to play a regular role in the Championship for Rovers?
Rob: Yes absolutely. He has taken the situation at Burton in his stride and the fact he has been an ever present shows his value. It’s obviously a step up for him but I’m sure he could adapt to it well if a place opened up in your defence.
RC: What level could he play at in the future? Any other comments?
Rob: It’s hard to say really. He’d only just turned 21 when we signed him so time is certainly on his side. He does have a lot of the core attributes needed to progress within the game in my opinion. We play a very compact shape defensively so it’d be interesting to see how he’d do without that same level of protection, ie, if he was being pulled out of position more.
But, to be honest, I think if he had a run in the Blackburn first team, then it probably wouldn’t be long before he was being noticed again by others. I suppose the only thing I would add is maybe highlighting the fact he has had to play with multiple different partners. I think that probably shows a maturity and assurance to his game that he can adapt to that. For example, Michael Bostwick is more of a “stopper” type defender, loves a physical battle whereas Michael Mancienne will step out more and try to nick the ball away from ahead of his man. Hayden’s performance levels remain the same no matter who’s alongside him and that’s really good to see.
Thank you to Rob for taking time out to answer our questions. You can find him on Twitter at @Rob_BAFC.
Featured Image Credit: https://www.burtonalbionfc.co.uk/