As United’s relentless Saturday-Tuesday schedule continues manager Chris Beech spoke about the need for every member of the squad to be ready to play their part and step up, with five changes having been made to the starting line-up on Tuesday night as an example of that very message.
“We’re going to have to keep doing things like that with the amount of games we have,” he explained. “People have asked about George Tanner - George recovered from his operation on his collarbone and he’s a good player, I don’t need to tell you that, but this would have been his seventh game in three weeks.
“He’s not been quite as active and intense as I would like, and that’s between me and George, but there’s other players who haven’t been quite the same. As I’ve said before, it’s actually like they’ve all been injured because they’ve all not played through that prolonged period.
“It’s been very difficult to then get thrown straight back into playing. You ask any professional player that’s not played regularly for two months, it is so difficult.
“The good news is that the fitness stats are creeping up, even though they’re still not there. We still keep going. We don’t know the effects of Covid in the team, we’ve had over 50 per cent of players with it.
“But we do know the players are giving everything to what they’re trying to achieve and that’s generally to look at our opponent and win the game.”
Missing from the group for the Grimsby game was Josh Kayode, who was on the receiving end of a heavy challenge early in the Colchester encounter.
“We’re not too sure on the timeframe but he’s a strong boy, who’s stepped up I think the last three weeks, he really has,” he said. “He’s led the line very well but I thought Lewi Alessandra did an exceptional job last night, especially early doors, because he got whacked on the head and he needed his bandage.
“He’s getting stitches now, he led the line great, but hopefully Josh won’t be too long.”
“I think Aaron Hayden is going to be ok,” he continued. “Players deal with things differently. Aaron gave his all, he always does in different ways as well, and we’ve all got things to improve on.
“Aaron will hopefully be fine and available for Saturday, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
“The good thing is that we worked hard in the summer to recruit a good group,” he added. “That hasn’t changed. These are the same lads who were exciting us and getting us all feeling so positive.
“They’re giving us everything, we’re just not getting a lot in return at the moment. It’s frustrating but no, the players deserve credit, because they are giving everything.
“You’re only as good as your players on the pitch, they have to believe in what they’re tyring to achieve, and they have to do it when the whistle goes. You could have the worst presentation, the worst coaching session, it could be absolutely diabolical, but if the players turn up and turn on, you’re a hero.
“I don’t work like that. Everything’s done with thought and a process, there’s freedom within what we do, I want to play fast, attacking football, in conditions like this. I want people tackling and tracking. You see that in the way we approach every game.
“I don’t feel that the feeling of togetherness has gone. When you go through something bad, whether it’s with your wife, kid, whoever it is, your family, your business, job, you have more respect coming out of it if you find the right answer within it.
“It grows things. That’s why we did what we did with our recruitment. David Holdsworth has done an unbelievable job to make sure the club can stay sustainable and support what we’re trying to achieve now.
“We have players who are new to this and they’re doing so well. We see that with the Jack Armer performances, Joe Riley’s first season as a full-time professional playing regularly, Callum Guy taking more ownership of his situation because he was always in and out, although playing at League One level, things like that.
“They’re big things and we’ve got to make sure they keep growing. If we get through this together they’ll be stronger after, but while they’re getting there let’s try and do it quicker, without being desperate, so they might be able to touch something.
“I think it’s excellent that we’ve put together a group of young, hungry players. We’ve got a lot of players who will only get better, while we still try to achieve something.
“You can’t do that without winning games, which we haven’t done in this three-week period, but we are determined to make that change, which it will.”
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