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INTERVIEW: This week has shown the performance levels are there

Defender Tom Miller on back-to-back home games and a new role at left back

24 October 2017

Defender Tom Miller stepped in to cover the left back position two games ago as suspension and injury took captain Danny Grainger onto the sidelines.

We spoke to him about the new experience, and about how the squad was feeling, having come so close to picking up maximum points from both home fixtures.

“There’s an air of frustration, to be fair,” he said. “We haven’t lost the games but we’re still a little bit disappointed. Having said that, we can take a lot of positives away from the week in general.

“There are some very good things to take out of the games because we’ve played some nice stuff, so there are mixed emotions at the moment, to be honest. We felt we could take away nine points from this week with how we’ve played, but that just wasn’t to be.”

“Going into the break at half time [against Notts County] we spoke about the fact you have to take your chances against teams at the top of the league,” he added. “I had a good chance and I think the keeper pulled off a great save. I reckon it was one where if it had come off my shin it probably would have gone in. I caught it quite nicely and it was a superb save in the end.

“Reggie Lambe’s header was another one the keeper got to, but when you’re playing teams at the top of the league you’ve got to put them to sleep when you can. The fact we didn’t do that is the one negative thing we take out of that first half.

“Other than that, I thought we did well in all areas of the pitch. We defended well, we won the second balls and Hallam [Hope] worked hard for us up top. As I say, the frustrating thing is not scoring from the other chances, because it would have been a more comfortable second half if we had.”

With victories difficult to find at home at the moment we wondered if that was weighing on the minds of the players as they headed into their fixtures here at Brunton Park.

“No, I don’t think it does,” he told us. “I think before the performances this week that was probably the case. I know we didn’t win, but we’ve drawn against two very good teams and we know we should have had more.

“The nerves have gone a little bit now and I think we can concentrate on getting ourselves back up the league and where we should be. We’re six points off the play-offs and we want to be in the mix. Everybody feels confident, and we know if we do kill teams off we’ll be getting the results we’re working for.

“This week has shown the performance levels are there, but it’s also highlighted where there are things to work on. We’ll do that, because we always want to improve, and we want to build on what’s been a good week.”

And on his new left back role, he said: “I’ve never played there before, to be honest. I don’t mind that and wherever it means I can get in the team, I’ll play there. I knew I could do it and I gave a good account of myself. I worked hard to get up and down the line as much as I could and mentally I felt in a good place.

“I have to say I got a bit tired but that’s because I’ve been out of the team for a while and both games were intense. I’ve enjoyed it, and I’ve tried to make the right decisions, and hopefully everybody has seen that was the case.

“When the gaffer told me I was playing there before the Wycombe game I kind of had an idea it would be me anyway. With Danny [Grainger] being suspended I thought I’d be his option, so I was preparing myself for it by going through different scenarios and things like that.

“Overall I was buzzing that I was getting an opportunity to play again. It was a relief for me, in a way, to be back in the team, and from that I’m trying to earn the right to stay in there. I didn’t worry too much about playing there because I know if I do what I’m capable of it will help the team.”

On waiting for his chance to come around again, he commented: “I stay patient if this kind of thing happens and I don’t even let the gaffer know I’m annoyed. Some players do, because it’s the kind of industry where you have to look after yourself.

“I’m not a person who would go and see him and use anybody else in the team as a reason for why I should be involved. I prefer to talk about myself and my own levels of performance, and then say why I feel I should be playing.

“Part of the magic of football is the ups and downs you go through. It’s how you handle being in the team, then being out of it, and what your response is when you get a chance. I won’t say it hasn’t been a tough few weeks for me, because it has, but you have to handle it as well as you can.

“I just want to play football, especially here, because I’ve loved my time at the club. The manager has given me an opportunity and I think I’ve taken it, so hopefully I’ve done enough to stay in there.”

“There’s competition for places all over the pitch but there’s no animosity,” he concluded. “James Brown is a good friend of mine and he has a lot of potential because he’s a very good player. The competition comes from us playing in the same position, but it doesn’t mean I need to be stabbing him in the back.

“I’m not that kind of person and I’d never do that. I’m happy for him and I want him to do well because he’s got everything ahead of him. I was in that situation at one point and I’d have liked somebody to do the same for me. We help each other, we praise each other and it’s a very good relationship.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Tom Miller on iFollow United now.   

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