Big, Bad Ben Turner: A look at Cardiff City's giant centre half
Ben Turner is a monster of a man. Tall, powerfully built with a permanent scowl, he wouldn't look out of place in the Serbian back four, alongside the likes of Branislav Ivanović, Aleksandar Kolarov and Nemanja Vidić, or alternatively, anywhere in the current Stoke City side.
Birmingham born and bred, the 23 year old has only played 90 senior games thus far, a knee ligament injury sustained blocking a shot last November cost him almost a full calendar year of his career.
Having represented England U-19's as far back as May 2007, he was also awarded Coventry City's Young Player of the Year for the 2008-09 season.
Turner had the misfortune of emmerging during tumultuous times at Coventry, playing under Micky Adams, Iain Dowie, Chris Coleman, Aidy Boothroyd and Andy Thorn, pretty much a different manager every year, in his time at the club.
Despite being unable to hold down a regular place, he was clearly very highly regarded, with Dowie, Coleman and Boothroyd all rewarding his efforts with new deals. During his time at the club, Boothroyd claimed that he felt Turner could become a "major star", adding; "He's got the size, the ability in the air and he's tidy with his feet as well - he's got a lovely drive and he can pass.
With the talent he's got and the physical presence he's got, he's a guy that can go on and become very, very big in the game."
Coventry's loss is certainly Cardiff's gain, since displacing Anthony Gerrard in the heart of the defence, the Bluebirds have embarked on a seven game unbeaten run, conceding a mere three goals in their last six games. Paired with Gerrard in Tuesday's draw at Coventry, due to Mark Hudson's late withdrawal, Turner impressed once again as his match fitness and confidence grows with every passing fixture.
Gerrard's surprise inclusion was at the expense of Darcy Blake, who has impressed in recent international outings. Having recently spoke out with regards to his dismay at a lack of regular first team football, Malky Mackay's chippy response may reveal why Blake was again overlooked.
"Darcy knows exactly what he has to do. We spoke six weeks ago and Darcy knows what he has to do every day at this football club to be involved. It should be clear in his mind what he needs to do" claimed Mackay cryptically.
Blake may soon find his international prospects are also under threat from Turner, with the discovery that he may be eligible to represent Wales through his Welsh grandmother. The FAW are believed to have first approached Turner two years ago, during John Toshack's reign.
Having allowed Middlesbrough's Rhys Williams to slip through his fingers, Toshack's powers of persuasion, or lack of effort, cost Wales dearly and Gary Speed is unlikely to pass up the opportunity.
"If it was me, I'd cap him tomorrow to make sure I have him" was Mackay's enthusiastic recommendation when quizzed on the subject.
Turner is clearly Mackay's defensive leader and is surely captain in waiting. If Turner can retain his fitness, it's up to Blake, Gerrard and Hudson to stake their claim to be his regular defensive partner. As current captain, Hudson appears to have the edge at present but has handed the initiative back to Gerrard by picking up a knock at the worst possible time.
Competition for places is healthy and Cardiff have plenty in central defence, for one of the two spots, Turner's inclusion appears to be a given and based on recent performances, entirely justified.