United boss John Sheridan spoke again at his pre-Tranmere press conference about the healthy competition within his squad as players edge closer to a return from injury.
“This weekend is probably a game that has come a bit too quick for Danny Grainger, and Mike Jones will be out for another week,” he said. “Danny trained for a while this morning [Thursday] and Jona will look to do the same next week.
“Other than that, everybody else just wants to play. Hallam Hope is back, so he adds to the selection mix, and there are a lot of players in there who will feel they should start.
“We’ve got some good players coming back to make us even stronger which adds another competitive edge. I’ve said just this week that I can only pick eleven and, being honest as a manager, I find it difficult leaving players out.
“They work their socks off to be involved and that’s a massive plus for me. It makes it feel as though whoever I put in the team I know they’re going to perform. When you’re winning games it does make your job a little bit easier, but there are still those decisions for me to make as to who will be involved.”
With five of the last six games having been victories for the Blues, he told us: “I think it’s just good that we’re winning games. It’s a long, long season and even if we just go by last week’s game you could see we weren’t at the races for half an hour.
“That’s why I have to try in the best way I can to keep them on their toes and remind them that I won’t accept that kind of performance. Doing that loses you games, but the positive side was that we responded really well and, if we play like we did in the second half, we’ll win 95% of our games.
“We work and we do everything we can to cover the opposition, and we respect whoever we’re playing, but I want us to feel good and I want us to feel confident that we’re going out to get three points.
“As I said before the first ball was kicked, we’re probably one of 14 or 15 sides who think they can get out of this division. I want the players thinking that way as well. I’m not surprised we’re up there, I want us to be up there, and I want everybody thinking we’re going to go up.
“I’m not going to be false and say that the season has been alright if we finish tenth or twelfth. That isn’t what I’m about. I’m quite greedy and I want to be promoted during the first year I’m here.
“If we maintain and the points tally we’ve started with we won’t be far off. However, there’s always something waiting for you round the corner and we have to make sure we don’t fall into that.”
With the loan transfer window now well and truly shut, the manager confirmed that he is now concentrating on getting the best out of his very good squad.
“We aren’t looking at the free agent market at the moment,” he commented. “As I said before, when the injured players get back the squad looks quite strong if we’ve got everyone fit and available.
“I’m leaving players out of the team as it is, Jack Sowerby hasn’t played yet, Regan [Slater] was excellent on Tuesday night against Morecambe, Adam Campbell keeps coming on and looking lively. We’ve got Grainger and Jones coming back, and it might even be a case of having to leave one or two off the bench when they’re all fit.
“We all know the situation with Jason [Kennedy], he’s working his socks off and he feels really good at the moment. He’ll be like a new player when he comes back, but at the moment I’ve got to concentrate on the players who are fit and available right now. We all know it will hopefully be January when he’s back in and around the group, and it will be a massive plus for us when he is.”
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