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Deeney making strides with City
10:52am Thursday 27th February 2014 in Sport
ELLIS Deeney is a player who certainly fits into the category of unsung hero at Worcester City.
The 22-year-old has been known to divide opinion among fans but he is one of the first names on manager Carl Heeley's team sheet.
He has played every game this season, the only member of the squad to do so, and has played in three different positions.
Having started the season at left-back, the former Aston Villa youth team captain was shunted into midfield following the departure of Tom Thorley to Hednesford Town in November.
Then, after Jamie Grimes was recalled from his loan by Kidderminster Harriers earlier this month, Deeney was deployed at centre-half.
It is a position he has occasionally occupied during tactical switches in the latter stages of fixtures this season but, with Richard Munday and Shabir Khan injured for last Saturday's trip to Gainsborough Trinity, Heeley turned to his Mr Reliable.
City might have lost the game 2-1 but Deeney, not the tallest in City's ranks, isn't going to be used in the centre of defence every week.
Now in his third season with the club, he is a player Heeley feels he can turn to and he is highly regarded at Worcester.
Both Heeley and assistant boss Matt Gardiner are admirers of his technical ability, honed during his formative years with Villa.
It was that asset that formed the thinking behind pairing him with Richard Taundry in midfield, and more recently Aaron Brown, to fill the void left by Thorley, last season's player of the year.
It was perhaps also a case of needs-must as Worcester had neither the funds, nor the pulling power of a decent league position, to recruit a specialist replacement.
Many people, myself included, were dubious but Deeney has grown in stature in the role. He might not be the finished article but City's results have generally improved since Thorley left.
How much of that is down to him, rather than Grimes or Brown, is debatable but Deeney has been the one constant.
He has versatility and this season has also shown the character of the player. He had his last campaign cut short by a nasty ankle injury sustained at Vauxhall Motors but he hit the ground running in pre-season and appears to be reaping the benefits.
It should also not be forgotten that Deeney has endured a turbulent personal life in the past couple years, having lost his father in 2012 and being handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, following a brawl outside a Birmingham nightclub.
His elder brother Troy, who was jailed for 10 months for his part in that incident, has similarly got himself back on track and is currently 14-goal leading scorer at Championship side Watford.
He also comes to watch Ellis at Aggborough when not turning out for the Hornets.
Perhaps that bond has been pivotal in Ellis' progression.