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MANAGER: Expecting a tough game

15 August 2014

United boss Graham Kavanagh ahead of the Wycombe away trip

Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us ahead of the away trip to Wycombe on Saturday. 

“The fact it's the first away game of the season will come into my mind when I'm picking the team,” he confirmed. “The philosophy will never change. We want to play football, but we have to play in a manner that isn't cautious but is suitable for an away game. 

“We can't concede early and we want to stay in the game for as long as we can. They will be expected to come at us, being the home team, and we're hoping that will leave gaps behind their defence.”

“We're expecting a tough game but I think that’s the same for every fixture we play this season,” he continued. “I don’t think I’ll ever be saying anything different. 

“We've seen in the cup this week that you have to earn your victory, whoever you are. Wycombe struggled in the league last season and I spoke to Gareth [Ainsworth] over the summer. He was keen to get players in who could keep them away from relegation. 

“They had a good victory at the weekend, which I'm sure will give them confidence, but I think they'll know they'll be in for a tough test.” 

“I played with Gaz at Cardiff,” he told us. “He's a great lad and he has a really infectious character. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he loves his rock and roll! He’s the kind of man who really gets players playing for him. 

“I think players feed off his energy and spirit and he's done a very good job there with limited resources. It will be a tough game but it's one we're all looking forward to.”

On player availability, he said: “David Amoo [ankle] is a little bit better but he won't be fit for the weekend. We've got one or two other knocks but nothing major. 

“Stephen Elliott has a toe problem, and he had an injection the other night, but I think he should be fine. We'll keep assessing him to see if he's capable of 90 minutes. I think the answer to that will probably be no, but we'll have to see where he is. 

“Troy [Archibald-Henville] is chomping at the bit to be involved. He's actually got a bit of a calf problem, because he's been doing extra work and probably overloading himself, and that’s with him being so keen to be fit. Troy will be a big player for us this season and the centre halves in the team have to stake their claim and keep clean sheets to keep him out of the team. 

“Mark [Beck] will probably be another week. He's going back to A&E to be reassessed so we can see where he is. I don't think it's an issue. It's just one where they are very cautious due to the area it's in.” 

And on player recruitment, he told us: “I’ve come up short with a couple of names, in terms of strikers this week, but we will keep looking. 

“People I've spoken to haven't given me the feedback I was hoping for so we've probably explored every avenue with players who are out of contract. We'll now have to start looking at players who are already at clubs. It will depend on the player but it will probably be loan deals that we look at.”

“I think we're learning more about the group every day and we’re seeing the different mindsets of the players,” he said. “We're getting performances and playing good football but we now need to turn it into wins. Hopefully that will start on Saturday. 

“Confidence is a big factor and I was very pleased with how we performed on Monday night against a very good team. I think the lads will gain a lot from that but the sooner we get the first win the steadier things will be. That will impact greatly on the mood in the group because although they're all in a good frame of mind, we all know we need that first win.” 

One player who has come in for particular praise this past has been defender Courtney Meppen-Walter.

“Courtney didn't come back for pre-season in the shape we would have liked,” he revealed. “We had a target for all of the lads and he fell short, which disappointed me. 

“I had a word with him and I've been constantly on his case because he's got the potential to be a very good player. At times he has a lacklustre mindset which we're trying to change so he can be effective every single day. 

“When he does that his talent really shines through and he has been magnificent in the first two games. For the last four or five weeks he has been completely dedicated and extremely driven and he's bought into everything we've asked of him. He's got himself into tremendous physical shape and I don't think it's any coincidence that his performances have started to reflect that. 

“He's changed my opinion on him because when he came back I wasn't sure if he was going to be involved at the start of the season. That just shows what the right mindset and approach can do for a player. It's only two games, and Courtney needs to make sure he stays in the team, but he's very much doing that at the moment.”

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