United boss Chris Beech spoke at his pre-match press conference about the importance of set pieces at all levels of the game, and about the impact they can have on a game if done correctly at both ends of the pitch.
“We’ve seen improvements in our attacking and defending set pieces and that’s down to the players delivering, and it’s a commitment to get on the end of things,” he explained. “They were so vital in the Champion’s League last season, never mind in League Two, and in world football.
“It’s something we should spend time on because they can change the game. I went to a CPD meeting at St George’s Park the other day and I asked Gareth Southgate how much time they spent on set pieces.
“We’ve got all these words now, the FA obviously like them, match day -2 and things like that. I don’t know, that just means two days before the game to me.
“He did say that they tend to spend quite a bit of time on them and he’s been naming his team quite early to make sure that the players doing that know who it is who is meant to be doing what. By starting two days ahead of the game they can practice, and that’s because he knows how vital they are in tight matches. If our national side are doing it, why can’t we?”
And as the Blues look forward to a tough test today, he also confirmed that there is healthy competition for places within the dressing room.
“You’ve got to have competition for places,” he commented. “It keeps people on their toes and, if you’re not quite at it we have options to change personnel to make sure we protect Carlisle.
“All of the players are pushing for a start. I’ve been really pleased with the response from the lads, especially with the window shutting. There were two or three players we were looking to help facilitate them playing by possibly leaving, but it’s gone now, so it’s lockdown.
“It’s the way it is to the end of the season unless you look at non-league options. They’ve really committed to the training programme and I’ve been really pleased with that. Omari Patrick and Callum Guy are both available, as are the other new lads.
“There are a few injury doubts but I won’t go into who they are right now. Obviously Stefan Scougall came off in the reserve game, but he’s been out with Dolly. Ryan Loft trained on Thursday, he scored a couple of goals in training, which was good for him.
“We’ll see how he recovers from that because he wasn’t himself pre-last weekend and I did have a few conversations with him. He pulled out on match day with not being fit, he spent some time at home, and he’s come back and trained with us. That’s a good response from him.”
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