Graham Kavanagh on pushing for places
Manager Graham Kavanagh admitted today that an all-action performance from Manchester United striker Sam Byrne at Wigan on Tuesday, which included a neat headed finish from a Derek Riordan cross, had given him plenty to think about ahead of the visit of Gillingham at the weekend.
“I think Sam was the one who gave me real food for thought,” he said. “He had energy and mobility and there was plenty of drive and desire. He stretched the game, he got his goal and he put them on the back foot quite a bit.
“He showed a real willingness to get into goal scoring areas and I was really pleased with how he approached the whole day. I’m hoping he will take a lot of confidence from that.”
The other plus for the day was getting pitch time for keeper Dean Bouzanis following his recent arrival on a three-month contract.
“Dean hasn’t played for a good while,” he explained. “That has stood out a little bit in training because he has looked rusty at times. It’s probably very similar to where Greg [Fleming] was when he first joined us.
“He is an excellent keeper, we know that beyond doubt, but it does take a bit of time to get up to speed. He’s improving every day and there is real competition for that starting place now.”
“This type of game is huge for our young lads,” he continued. “We’re looking at Dave Symington, Patrick Brough, Kyle Dempsey and the rest of them and you can see that they’re crying out for games.
“They’re making mistakes and there are little faults they are prone to, and we have to make sure they don’t become training ground players. We need them to be players who know how to react in difficult situations. If they aren’t playing regularly then it ends up being a gamble on a Saturday because I don’t know what I’m going to get from them.
“Getting the games for them isn’t as easy as it seems because we don’t have a reserve or U21 league. When they do get the chance it becomes important for them to realise that there is always somebody watching them and making a judgement. They have to put their best case forward and show they are capable of doing the job.”
“Everything we’re doing now is geared towards Gillingham on Saturday,” he told us. “I gave the group Sunday and Monday off because they haven’t had any down time for quite a long time.
“It was important for them to get that because of the intensity of the work we’ve given them and because we go into a run of Saturday/Tuesday games for the next few weeks.
“I felt it was important for us to be fresh so we had the two days off and we go again now to get ready for Gillingham. We’ll look at the group and make our decisions over the next few days. Whoever is selected they all know that we need to be picking up results.”