United boss Steven Pressley spoke again this week about the continued improvements he’s seen in a number of players following much-improved reserve game performances and an excellent attitude shown in the additional training sessions held on weekday afternoons here at Brunton Park.
“We work relentlessly with these lads in the afternoons and I keep talking about the fact that things take time, but I am seeing good progress,” he told us. “I see a group of players that want to do well with this club. I see a group of players in there that are fighting every day to be better.
“People don’t see that, but I see it and I’m very proud of the players I have here. I get a real kick from watching the progress they’re making. If you’d seen the place where Aaron Hayden was about four weeks ago - he was in a bad place - and I had a long conversation with him and I’ve worked and worked with him.
“He was another who was terrific on Tuesday night and he’s making real strides. It was an assured and commanding performance from him and I really do get a kick from seeing it.”
Newcastle United loanee Elias Sorensen was another who came in for praise as he grew into the Blackpool game to go on to become a real threat, particularly in the second half.
“Elias worked exceptionally hard in the first half and at times didn’t get his rewards, but he kept doing it and doing it,” the manager said. “He went on to have an exceptional second half and I’m pleased with the way he’s coming round and with the way he’s progressing.
“He showed great bravery but, in football, it’s amazing, because the harder you work the better you perform. That’s the bottom line and I think that one of the things he’s added to his game is his out of possession work.
“We’ve worked on that with him and on his understanding of his roles and responsibilities, and he’s doing it to great effect. As the game went on he got stronger and stronger and I’m really pleased with what he did for us.”
And on another solid display from 17-year-old defender Jarrad Branthwaite, he said: “I thought Jarrad, for a young boy playing against some physical players, performed really well. He’s another who is improving all the time.
“As a group there wasn’t a failure, they were intense, they pressured the game well and, let’s not be kidded here, this was a good Blackpool side with a lot of experienced first team players. That’s why it was a positive result for us.”
The Blackpool game brought a return to the starting line-up for influential midfielder Stefan Scougall, who captained the team for the first time on the night.
“Scougs, the truth is, he’s an amazing boy,” he commented. “I keep saying this about him, but I absolutely love him to bits.
“The intention was to only play him for 60 minutes but, because of circumstances, I had to keep him on longer.
“He got a little bit of cramp towards the end of the game but he just never lets you down.”
And wide man Nathan Thomas returned from illness in the second half with an explosive appearance which saw him twice go close to bulging the back of the net.
“Nathan really looked up for it and that was the type of reaction I wanted from him,” he said. “I really like Nathan as a boy and he’s someone who is maturing all the time.
“We had a good conversation the other day and we’re really comfortable with where we are. It was important for him that he came on and gave the reaction he did.
“The chance where he hit the post is absolutely vintage Nathan Thomas. He gets in that position and opens up, and it was there for him. He was unfortunate to see it come back off the post, but that sort of chance is typical of what he can do.
“He can be his own worst enemy at times but I really like the boy, and I have a really good relationship with him, which I want to continue. I was really pleased with the way he went about things.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Steven Pressley on iFollow United now.
Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.