HAVING played 30 minutes against Bristol Rovers, just over half a match with a dead leg against Queen's Park Rangers and made a cameo appearance in the 2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon, Alan Gow has not featured as much for City this season as fans were expecting.
As a result, he came off the bench in Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Morecambe looking to impress. The trouble is he didn't have his finest half-hour and this has led to criticism from some City supporters, one of whom, on the fans' forum Exeweb, asked if the club should think about selling him considering that he is one of the top earners in the side.
It has created a bit of debate but, if asked a straight yes-or-no question whether Exeter City needed Gow, my answer would be an unequivocal yes.
And while I recognise that every fan is entitled to his or her opinion and not everyone sees eye to eye on tactics, player ability or even the offside rule, questioning Gow's worth to the City side seems very short-sighted, and that includes whether you are looking back at what he did last season, or forward at what he can offer this campaign.
Putting aside the fact that not many players performed well in the final half-hour against Morecambe, Gow hasn't been fully fit this season, so to judge him on the 60 minutes of league football his played so far is unfair.
Some will argue that they are not. They are judging him on his time at City and Gow is 'frustrating' and 'flatters to deceive'.
Did he flatter to deceive when he chipped that through ball to John O'Flynn against Wycombe Wanderers when Exeter City were down to 10 men and battling against the odds to get anything out of the game?
It was a great pass, a touch of creative magic that is well above the usual League Two standard.
And let's not forget the performance against League Two champions Gillingham last November – a match when Gow was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch.
A superb free-kick, an assist and a display of counter-attacking excellence, which led Gills boss Martin Allen to enquire about the availability of the Scotsman when the January transfer window opened.
I remember the nervousness amongst City fans when those rumours of a move were circulating – not many at that point were thinking it was a good idea to sell.
And of course who can forget Gow's Rabona and two goals against Accrington Stanley last August – a feat many Championship players would be proud of.
Not enough? Well that is nine points last season that City would have struggled to get without Gow's inclusion in the team.
And that is not counting the penalty he won and scored against Torquay United, and numerous assists he provided including for Cureton against Burton Albion, Fleetwood Town and AFC Wimbledon at St James's Park.
Had he not been injured between February and May I have little doubt City would have finished in the play-offs. The notion that Gow's good displays are too sporadic is nonsense – the good games far outweigh the bad.
Another fan suggested that Gow doesn't fit into the current formation, with Paul Tisdale playing a 4-4-2 formation and preferring John O'Flynn and Sam Parkin up front.
Yes, Gow has not started a league game this season, but a successful team needs to be versatile.
Gow could quite easily play behind those two strikers if Tisdale wanted to be more attacking or partner either of them up front when needed.
Added to that, if Tis wanted to set his team up to hit on the counter, who better to play than Gow – an attacking midfielder who had a lead part in Exeter City's record-breaking away run last season?
Another argument a supporter made is that Gow is often injured and doesn't play enough games.
It is true that Gow missed large parts of last season, but so did Tommy Doherty, Matt Oakley and Liam Sercombe.
I hope none of those are out for lengthy spells this season but, if they are, having a player of Gow's ability still in the City side will be crucial.
A lot has been made of City's crop of good youngster coming through. Matt Grimes had a fine debut against AFC Wimbledon, but it was just one game. I don't think anybody should pin hopes of promotion on him or the other City youngsters.
The likes of Gow and Oakley have been playing for the past decade and have been performing well at levels much higher than League Two. It should be easy to see that they hold the key to City's success.