‘He will benefit’ - Nigel Pearson’s Andi Weimann verdict after Bristol City star dropped

Nigel Pearson has explained the reasoning behind his eyebrow-raising decision to drop one of his most influential players.

Andi Weimann will benefit from a small break from Bristol City’s starting line-up admits manager Nigel Pearson.

The 31-year-old has been one of the first names on the team sheet for most of Pearson’s tenure. He started in every Championship match last season, which resulted in his career best campaign.

Weimann netted 22 goals and provided 10 assists in what was a highly productive campaign last season. His form coincided with a return to the Austria national team in March, which has added further games to what is a busy calendar for a second-tier footballer.

In the last month, Weimann’s club form has dipped with no goal contributions in his last eight matches. His last goal came away at Wigan Athletic in mid-August, with the Austrian not as fortunate in front of goal as he was last year.

Weimann is a player that would be deemed as undroppable given his influence to the team but against West Brom, he found himself on the bench. It was the first time in Pearson’s tenure that Pearson had named him as a substitute for a league match. The only other occasion was an FA Cup match against Fulham when the team had been rotated.

“It’s not about getting a reaction from him,” said the 50-year-old when asked if dropping to the bench would get a reaction from Weimann.

“It’s a recognition of how much football he has played and he has broken back into the international side. He’s in his thirties and he has played an awful lot of football over the last 12-15 months. Sometimes players just need a break from the firing line if you like.”

His starts for the season still has him with four goals and four assists, ranking him as one of the most creative players in the team. In his absence, the team changed their shape slightly with a flat midfield three of Alex Scott and the experienced pair of Joe Williams and Matty James with the latter donning the captain’s armband.

Weimann has predominantly played behind the striker where he benefited from last season, getting goal scoring opportunities as well as the chance to provide support to his teammates. As a player over the age of 30, he can be deemed as an experienced player and managing your fitness, as well as trying to manage your game can be an envious task.

Despite a lesser role in midweek which saw him come on for the remaining ten minutes, the role as a substitute isn’t something that will be a long-term tactic.

Pearson added: “It’s what the team needs and also for Andi he will benefit from it because he cares so much about his own performance and the team’s performance. He is always going to be somebody who is very visible out there just because of the amount of work he gets through.

“I’m delighted he is our player but on Tuesday night we felt it was the right decision to make and give him a breather. When he came on he was lively.”

Another player dropped from the side recently is club captain Daniel Bentley, who has been a substitute for the last three matches. Bentley’s last appearance was in a 3-0 defeat to Birmingham City at St Andrew’s in which changes were prompted for their next match.

Max O’Leary, who has mainly been a back-up during his time as a City player, has been in between the sticks with Stefan Bajic still not involved in the 18-man squad. O’Leary kept his first clean sheet of the season against West Brom, having conceded twice against Millwall and once against Preston North End.

Bentley, out of contract in the summer, endured a spell out of the side last season, but despite the risk of upsetting a key player, the manager isn’t phased by having to upset them to name his desired team.

Pearson admitted: “He’s grumpy but he wouldn’t be anything else would he? It’s fine. It doesn’t bother me and I don’t worry about it because the most important thing is what the team needs.

“Everybody I try to at least it is not always possible, I try to apply the same selection criteria to whatever situation. It’s as simple as that.”