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Luke Woodland | 25 | DCM | From England’s youth side to Thailand’s top-flight via Europe, the versatile combative midfielder who loves a tackle

Luke Woodland is a 25-year-old international currently plying his trade in Thailand’s top-flight. After being born in the UAE and raised in Liverpool, the defensive midfielder has so far experienced a unique career.

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After once lining up for England’s youth team alongside Manchester United’s Luke Shaw and Watford’s Will Hughes, Woodland has since gone on to enjoy a career which has spanned across four countries.

Woodland started his football journey at Bolton Wanderers youth academy where he featured 26 times for their under-23s side.

After departing Bolton’s youth academy in 2015, Woodland went on to experience spells at Chester, Bradford PA, Oldham Athletic and York City.

Internationally, between the years of 2010 and 2012, Woodland was eligible to represent England and the Philippines. The talented midfielder was selected for England’s under-16s, under-17s and under-18s and racked up an impressive 11 youth caps.

After opting not to renew his contract after a brief spell for Philippine club Ceres-Negros, Woodland made the switch to Asia where he now plays for Thai side Ratchaburi.

Style of play

Woodland generally operates as a combative defensive midfielder but is also capable and experienced undertaking centre-back responsibilities with the 25-year-old being best suited to playing on the right side of a back-line.

The experienced defender is best utilised as a traditional defensive midfielder who looks to break opposition play up at source.

Woodland’s ability and willingness to physically exert himself on his opponents allows his team-mates the necessary time to reform a stable formation.

Physicality

Arguably Woodland’s greatest physical plus is his pace. The midfielder possesses the speed required to successfully make recovery runs. Woodland’s willingness to recover the ball as quickly and as effectively as possible is a big positive in his game.

The defensive midfielder loves a tackle and being able to go toe-to-toe with opposition attackers. Woodland’s strength allows him to effectively command the hub of his side’s midfield.

At six foot tall, Woodland is also highly competent in the air, his aerial ability should not be underestimated and is arguably one of the best areas of his game.

After using his strength to out-muscle his opponent and his heading ability to head the ball out of the danger zone, Woodland very rarely comes off second best in an aerial duel.

Projected development

At 25-years-old Woodland’s physical frame is already established, however, with still a few years away from reaching his prime, the midfielder still has time to develop his strengths and ability to read the game.

Woodland could arguably still develop into a very capable and calm defensive midfielder.

His physical attributes such as his strength and pace suggest he could definitely be an asset to any European footballing side.

After gaining so much top-flight experience, Woodland can successfully adapt his defensive game to operate as both a traditional no-nonsense defender and a technical defensive midfielder looking to break-up play and initiate attacks from deep.

Strengths and conclusion

As mentioned above, Woodland’s biggest strengths are his physical traits such as his speed and his strength.

Mentally, Woodland is a very combative defensive midfielder who loves a tackle and enjoys getting the better of opposition attackers when faced in a one-on-one situation.

Elsewhere, one of Woodland’s stand-out technical strengths is his ability to win the ball in the air. He has a great understanding of when to head the ball and when to let it bounce and take a touch.

Woodland has a great spring in his leap and can comfortably out-jump taller players.

In conclusion, Woodland still has some developing to do, both mentally and technically, but he is a player who is definitely capable of playing in a better league than Thailand’s top-flight.

His determined nature both on and off the field of play make him a decent young prospect to coach.

After already showcasing his versatility across four footballing nations, Woodland could be a valuable option for any European side looking to bolster their defensive options.

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