Manager ahead of the weekend game
Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us about a full range of issues ahead of the weekend FA Cup second round game against Brentford.
Talking first about the extension of the loan spell for QPR defender Max Ehmer, he said: "I managed to track down Harry Redknapp's number and we had a really good conversation about Max," he said. "He was very encouraging with what he said about me as a young manager because he knows how difficult it can be.
"He said that if there was any way he could help us out in the future he would be happy to do that. I told him how important Max had been for us, and that we'd love to have him back, and thankfully he said that was fine."
"Unfortunately they won't let him play in the FA Cup game against Brentford this weekend," he added. "They obviously join the competition at the third round stage and they are doing very well in the league. It's understandable that Harry wants to have as many options as possible. I would have probably done the same if I was in his position, but we're really pleased to have Max with us for the games he will be available for."
"Josh Morris and Ben Amos have been denied permission to play in the FA Cup," he confirmed. "That will mean that Greg Fleming will play. Greg has been outstanding in training, he's responded very well to being in and out of the team, and he's kept his head down and got on with his job.
"Credit has to go Ben Amos because he has insisted on coming in to help and support Greg. That shows the type of people they both are. A lot of people talk about the goalkeeper's union but I've really seen how strong it is with this group. Tony Caig has created a really good environment for them to work in and I think you can see that they're all improving."
"We are missing those players but we have still got a lot of options," he told us. "We've got permission for Craig Roddan and Tom Lawrence to play, and we've also got plenty of cover for Max with Courtney Meppen-Walter, Danny Livesey and Paul Thirlwell. There are things we can do with team shape as well, so we're going into the game in a very good frame of mind."
"Brentford are the form team and they're playing very well," he agreed. "But we're the home side and we'll try and take the game to them, without being reckless. We played them earlier in the season so we know all about them.
"We played well in that game but I think they'll change their style of play when they come up here. We've got a good idea of how they'll play so we'll set up with that in mind. As I've said before, we'll always concentrate on ourselves before the opposition and that will be no different on Saturday. If the lads believe in themselves as much as I do then we'll give Brentford a very good game.
"It's a very important game to us in terms of prize money and building momentum. The FA Cup also brings that added excitement because if we can get through there's a chance of getting one of the big teams in the next round. We aren't looking that far ahead yet, but the incentive is there for the lads to put in a good performance on Saturday."
And with the Bees' manager having been given permission to speak to Championship side Wigan about their vacant position, he said: "Uwe Rosler has really impressed me. He came to Middlesbrough when I was there as a kid, for a few weeks, but he ended up signing for Man City. He's had a great career, he's very calm and you can tell he knows exactly how he wants his team to play.
"He's impressed me with his manner and his approach to games from the touchline and his players respond to everything he tells them. He's had a big budget to work with but he's used it very wisely and the club are looking to make the step up to the next level."
"We're obviously hoping they take their eye off the ball a little bit this weekend, with it being a cup game," he said. "Hopefully they're concentrating on their league performances. The cup throws up games where form goes out of the window, so anything can happen."
"Obviously we have talked to Leon [McSweeney] about his future with us and he was very understanding," he told us. "I haven't spoken to Pascal [Chimbonda] about his situation yet, because nobody knows what will happen over the Christmas period with injuries and suspensions. There are a lot of opportunities for him to impress, because we've got so many games. What I will say is that he's brought a lot of composure to the right back position but we'll wait as long as possible before we decide what to do."
"We've spoken about Courtney [Meppen-Walter] before and this is an opportunity for him," he continued. "He's trained well and he looks athletic and sharp, and he could find that he is involved much earlier than any of us anticipated. It could be a sink or swim situation for him but I have no problem with that. Maybe he needs that bounce game but we have definitely seen a constant improvement from him over the weeks he's been with us. It's all about options and he gives us more in terms of who we can use and how we can line up to play.
"Whoever we choose, we want to see maximum effort from all of them. Our fans have been magnificent and we keep talking about making this place a fortress. The thing is that we have to stop talking about it and make it happen out on the pitch. The fans always respond when we do so it's up to us to give them the results and the performances we all need."
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