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MANAGER: Size and presence

11 March 2014

Graham Kavanagh on new arrivals and squad strengthening

United manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us today about adding to the squad and the need for competition for places within the group.

“The signings we’ve made today add to the group,” he said. “We need numbers in the building and they are two defenders who bring size and presence.

“Size has been a big factor in recent weeks in my opinion. We’ve been looking small in terms of defending set pieces and things like that. We’ve missed Sean [O’Hanlon] so we did need to replace that type of player.”

“There’s development to be done with both of them but we were in a position, as I said a few weeks ago, where we were waiting to try and get experience through the door,” he explained. “I spoke to at least 15 clubs but nobody was letting me have any of their experienced lads. That has been frustrating but it then becomes a case of making the best of the situation you have. 

“I was actually getting told off one or two clubs that the potential was there for me to still get their players through the door. I was hanging on to see what happened or developed but it has got to the stage, with two weeks left in the loan window, that I thought it was time to act.

“We’re coming into a heavy run of games and I felt the most important thing was to get bodies in. We want competition for places and for people to be looking over their shoulders again.”

“Hopefully we’ll get one or two back and fit to add to the group in that same way,” he continued. “It’s possible that we’ll have Sean O’Hanlon and Paul Thirlwell in training next week but I’m not too sure what the situation is with Matt Robson. They are important players for us and it will make a big difference when they are back and ready to go again.”

“We are expecting Charni [Ekangamene] to come back to us as well,” he said. “Man United asked if they could use him for some of their Development Squad games because they’ve loaned out quite a few of their players. 

“I’ve had a very good relationship with Warren [Joyce] and I couldn’t see a problem with the request at all. They’ve been first class with us so we think he’ll be back with us for the weekend. He played last night [Man Utd 3 – 0 Wolves] and that meant he wasn’t with us today. The knock on from that is that he won’t be in contention for tomorrow. If we do see him again on Thursday then we’ll be able to look at him for the weekend.”

“We have to be honest and say we’ve had a bit of a makeshift team for the last few weeks,” he commented. “We got away with it against Brentford but we deserved more than we got against Port Vale. 

“We probably lost that game through our lack of experience. We got deeper and we defended the edge of our box for far too long. We needed to get out but it was almost as if we didn’t really know how to, as much as we were encouraging them and telling them from the sidelines. 

“I’ve been in that situation before as a player, when I was learning the game, and you think you’re defending what you have. In reality you’re only inviting more pressure. You need to stop it from coming at you from higher up the pitch and you need to be more aggressive. We gave them opportunities to come into our box and you tend to concede when you allow that pattern of play to develop.”

On the extension of the loan spells for Jordan Pickford and Danny Redmond, he said: “I’m very pleased with the fact we’ll have Danny and Jordan here. It’s important that we keep hold of these lads for as long as we can because they’ve been key players for us. They’ve done well and they’ve certainly added quality to the group. 

“We’ll keep looking to try to improve the squad, even from now until the window closes, and if there’s anything we can do then we’ll certainly have a close look at it. You just have to get on the road and see as many games and make as many contacts as you can. 

“If you see one you like you then have to act quickly. We want to get the bodies in to help us with the job of getting the points we need to keep us in this league as early as we can.”

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