Tuesday night brought a massive moment for defender Morgan Feeney who made his debut for the club some eight months after signing, having been through an unbelievable run of bad luck.
Such was his performance that fans on social media immediately posted his name as a suggestion when the post-match man of the match poll was launched, and manager Chris Beech confirmed that he was more than pleased with what he’d seen from his promising centre back.
“He’s had a great pre-season if you look at the kilometres he’s covered,” he said. “He played a lot of games and it’s helped him a lot.
“There are no worries, he’s played and he’s got through that. He’s played great, gave one ball away through a harsh pass to Callum, but other than that he’s managing the back three, at the time we had that in the first half, then we went to a four and I thought he did really well.
“But if you think about it, he was Everton, England captain, and Sunderland, so people know how good he is. He’s had a real bad time, so I’m really pleased he’s played and played well, and it will be great over the season that we see more of Morgan, and he’ll definitely serve us well.
“And all of our centre backs are good players. Rod’s lost weight and looks fitter. He’s not daft. He’s in his last year of his contract, he knows he needs a good season whether he stays here or goes somewhere else.
“As a player he needs content and facts to put down over a solid season. Corey is just a really good professional person on and he makes us better both on and off the pitch.
“Look, football moves on. We talked about Aaron leaving, but we look forward now. If you think about this time last year you had Aaron Hayden, Rod McDonald and Max Hunt.
“We’ve got Corey Whelan, Rod McDonald and Morgan Feeney this year, so we’ve got three very good centre-halves. It would be great to have another one before deadline day passes, but I’ve got a very adaptable, hard-working, honest squad.
“We’ve got people who can play there so we’ll see what happens. They’ve got to fit us, they’ve got to be the right people. We’ve got some great people haven’t we. There’s plenty of food for thought if you think about how it’s been since I came in.
“It’s been very difficult sometimes. There’s only Gavin Skelton and Jon Mellish still here since I came through the door, that’s staff and players. That’s because we’ve helped players to improve and they’ve moved on. We like doing that.
“Obviously it causes us conundrums and I’ll have to try and keep finding answers, but I definitely want to make us stronger and continue to compete like we do.”