United boss Steven Pressley confirmed that midfielder Stefan Scougall made a welcome return to training this morning following his seven-game lay-off with a hamstring injury.
“Stefan trained with the group for the first time in a while today [Thursday] so that was really pleasing,” he said. “It might just be a week too soon in terms of him starting a game. We’ll obviously consider his situation ahead of the weekend.
“The thing is that we don’t want to push him too quickly where we end up losing him for longer because he’s such a pivotal player. He came through training fine but it might be a bit too much to expect him to start the game at this point.”
Meanwhile he revealed that Nathan Thomas is a doubt as he missed Thurday’s session due to illness.
“He’s a doubt because he’s been off ill,” he told us. “We’ll assess him over the next 24 hours and we’ll make a decision.
“Other than that everybody else is fit and ready to go. With the exception of Kelvin Etuhu we have a clean bill of health, other than the illness we’ve spoken about.
“And, of course, we have Jack Bridge back with us following his suspension. That gives us a selection dilemma because Jack has been one of our star performers since he came here.
“Mo Sagaf gave a terrific account of himself at the weekend and the type of strength he showed against Oldham will certainly be required down at Newport.”
With the squad having had four days off as part of the manager’s seven-week training cycle, he said: “They’ve come in and they’re refreshed and in good spirits. This is something I will continue to do because I think it’s important that we have this cycle where everybody gets a break from it, having worked really hard, then we refocus and go again.
“I think the players enjoy the aspect that they know how hard they work during the six or seven weeks, but they also have the incentive of knowing that they’ll get three or four days off because of that. If we lose at the weekend people will question it, but in my eyes this is the right way to work.”
The manager also spoke about the addition of two intern analysts who helped with the preparation for the weekend trip into Wales as their first set of duties with the club.
“The analysts are with us and that’s fantastic,” he commented. “It’s all thanks to Andy Coyles, the Penrith manager, and he’s been excellent. He’s been hugely supportive and I appreciate that.
“They fed us good information about the opposition this week and they supplied us with a couple of presentations. We’ve also watched the clips we felt we needed to see ourselves, but overall it’s nice as a manager to get a bit of thinking space where you’re not having to do everything yourself.”