United boss Chris Beech brought us up to date with the latest injury news at his Thursday morning press conference as the team continues to prepare for the first game of the season when they face Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium at the weekend.
“Things are looking a bit better, which is good,” he said. “I think it does focus the minds and the bodies when big games are coming around. It looks a little bit healthier.
“There’s been a couple of niggles this week, but I don’t really want to give too much away. There’s also been lads who’ve competed and got another 90 minutes under their belts. We’ve had a game this week as well, at Blackburn, so that gave some players more game time.
“It was great to get more pitch time basically for everybody who didn’t play on Saturday. Max Hunt took great responsibility, I was impressed with Max.
“It gave Marcus a chance to play 90 mins, I know he’s been with Sheffeld United but he played in training games for them, and any of the friendlies. Again, he’s getting used to playing, not just because of the lockdown but because he also hasn’t played in pre-season. Other players got a run-out, it was great to see.
“I had a good half hour with Tony Mowbray, they signed a player I was trying to sign myself in the summer, they managed to get him for their 23s, he’s been training with Tony already. He’s a young player – it wasn’t Bradley Dack.
“We were very close to getting him but Blackburn is obviously a bigger, and a better opportunity for him. I was seeing if he was available in that chat. It was good talking to Tony, he’s a very experienced manager.
“They were training next to us, then we kicked off at 3pm. We have to make sure whoever comes in for games like this are EFL tested, with correct procedures in place for them to not take it into anybody’s building, so we didn’t take a look at any trialists for that reason.”
With keeper Magnus Norman heading up to Edinburgh to see a specialist today, he told us: “He’s already seen a specialist in London, had treatment, and fortunately he hasn’t needed it to be drained again this week.
“That’s good. He just needs to get back training and we can see what happens at that point.
“Dean Furman has had a little issue, it’s a slight hamstring, he’s not like the others. He has an outside chance, of course he does, of being available, because he knows his body better than anybody, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
“Omari [Patrick] has been really good. It was hard for me last Saturday, fighting to put him on, I think he would have tried to take the game on, score three goals in 45 minutes. He would have pushed and pushed, so that was a difficult decision not to use him.
“It was the right thing to do to get him involved, get those shinpads on, because he’s missed a lot of pre-season games. He was desperate to get on, but I did well in hindsight not tempting fate.
“JJ Kayode is another who has been progressing really well. Hopefully we’ll have some better news with him. These things all come together at some point, and it’s looking more likely that he’ll be more available to us, but we’ll have to wait and see.
“Josh Dixon is another who is edging closer. He’s had to not have his test his week, he had a slight thigh problem, not injured, but not great. He couldn’t go and do the test he has to do to balance off the thigh and hamstring.
“Once he’s had that done and they’re happy with the strength of it, he can go into contact training. That will be a big game changer for him and us. Hopefully that’s very soon. It hasn’t been this week, so he’ll be looking to do that next week.”
The easing of the injury list brings an increased competition for places at a very good time, with the season kick off just two days away.
“It’s difficult when you work through your eight week pre-season to play Fleetwood and you’ve got a lot of young players on the bench with no opportunity from my position to support a team that’s doing quite well, or try to change a game within that game,” he said. “You can put players in, and it’s good for them and it becomes one of their stats, but we’ve got to be mindful of the fact we want to win games.
“That’s the whole point of having a competitive situation, and that’s what we’ve worked hard to achieve, so it’s good to have more players available to add to that competitive edge.
“We’re always looking to improve what we are because we want that competitive environment. We’ve got a lot of young players trying to support that, who have been given an opportunity, but we can’t wait for them.
“If they’re right, they’re right, if they’re not, they’re not. We had great news with Lewis Bell, but he’s excelled in training and again the other day in the Blackburn game. You’re looking at other options and chances to make your squad stronger, you want the ability to change a game, not necessarily from the starting eleven.
“Definitely the door’s not shut on more arrivals. I’m always in conversations with certain things, it’s a bit like January, I can’t say too much, but at the same time there’s nothing really imminent happening right now.
“I don’t know if we’ll have anything by Saturday. The only new face I’d like to see is a Carlisle fan in the stadium. Who knows? We don’t know. It’s Thursday at the moment and things change.”