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INTERVIEW: Exactly what the lads needed

6 September 2016

Lee Dykes with Queen of the South reaction

Joint Assistant Manager Lee Dykes gave us his reaction to the friendly victory over Queen of the South on Monday afternoon which saw eight of the first team squad get 90 minutes under their belts.

“Games like this are all about getting pitch time for the players,” he said. “You can also say that the result is important because we’re trying to breed a winning mentality, and that starts with the players and the staff.

“I have to say that Queen of the South are an excellent side. They had some really good players on show and they played the game in the right way. It was very competitive and I think that’s exactly what our lads need.”

“It was good to see intensity in our play from the first kick off because we always train at game tempo,” he explained. “That’s what the manager demands from his players because we like to prepare them for game days in the best way we can.

“We played a number of formations to test the lads in different ways tactically and that made it a good mental test for the lads as well. The players took the information on board and that was pleasing to see.

“The day-to-day stuff we do is important but games like this are as good a training session as you can get. We have a good surface to play on and it meant we were able to get the ball down and pass it. The lads made some good decisions along the way as well. 

“That’s important because when it comes down to it they’re all trying to force their way back into the starting eleven. The manager will be able to assess individual performances from today and see whether or not he feels they’ve done what he asked them to do.”

On the trialists who were invited to take part in the game, he said: “We had a couple of them with us in positions we’re looking to strengthen. We don’t ever rush into anything in terms of recruitment and they’re lads we’ve been monitoring for quite a long time. We got pleasing performances from both – one in particular – so watch this space.”

And on defender Shaun Brisley, who left the field of play with three minutes left on the clock, he said: “I don’t think it was anything other than tiredness. I think he’s gone into a challenge, having worked hard through the game, so we’ll speak to the medical staff to confirm things but hopefully he’ll be fine.”

Talking about the unbeaten start to the season, he said: “We’re pleased with what we’ve done but we feel we could have done better as well. Take into consideration the Cambridge, Cheltenham and Accrington games and we feel as though we could potentially have six more points. We’re very self critical and we strive every day to improve in every department. 

“Going through August into September unbeaten is what we talked about in pre-season. It’s a good start and we’ve tried to make sure that the players understand if they can’t win the game they at least make sure they don’t lose it. 

“It’s a very long season and we have to keep building slowly and keep the momentum going. We want to be one of the teams in the mix so we’ll build with what we’ve got at the moment. We’re very happy with that because it’s a great bunch of lads. 

“If you look back to September 2014 it shows the two-year plan we put in place back at that time. I think we can confidently say that we’ve improved things from that point and we want that to continue.”

With the summer transfer window now closed the head of recruitment confirmed that the club came close to adding the group, missing out on one of their targets at the last moment on the final day.

“We had three or four targets and the players we had on our lists, even down to the third or fourth option in any given position, would have strengthened us and would have been excellent for this level,” he said. “We didn’t want to rush into things and the players we were after weren’t available, for one reason or another. One in particular actually went for a couple of hundred thousand pounds on deadline day when we thought he was coming to us. 

“That kind of thing can happen and we didn’t have to panic about it because we know we’ve got a very good squad. Long gone are those days where we’re running around on the last day of a transfer window to try to get players we need. We’re at a point now where we’re bringing in players we actually want.

“Spirits are high in the camp and there’ll be another transfer window in January which will play a part in where we want to go. We always plan a minimum 18 months in advance and we have to consider a variety of things. 

“We have to look at which division we think we’ll be in, which is a big one this time round because our aim is that hopefully we will be higher up the ladder this time next year. We’re confident that we have players who can compete and who can be consistent to help to get us there. Of course we’re looking to add to it, we always will be, but we do feel we’re in a good place.”

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