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Club News

MANAGER: It's about recovery now

Keith Millen on getting past the enforced Covid break

3 January 2022

Whatever the circumstance that brings about a mid-season break - be it weather, illness or factors beyond the control of anyone - the return to action brings with it the uncertainty of where the performance levels will be at, particularly when a number of games have been missed.

Club News

MANAGER: They showed resilience

2 January 2022

United’s return to the fold from their 21-day absence from competitive football brought positive answers to any doubts or questions that may have been raised when they dug deep to take a win from Glanford Park in a game that was keenly contested.

Addressing the issue of the recent Covid call-offs, manager Keith Millen said: “I didn’t make a big thing of it to the players after three weeks, but you can be a little bit rusty, so being honest I was worried.

“And, being honest, I thought first half we looked like we hadn’t played for a few weeks. We weren’t as sharp as we usually are, definitely not when we had the ball, but our shape, understanding, resilience and determination summed up the attitude of the squad.

“That was enough to keep is in it through a testing first 30 minutes and then, when you score, it gives you something to hold on to.

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“In the second half we probably had the clearer chances on the break but we were a little bit too quick to shoot. With a bit more composure we could have scored a second.

“They put us under a lot of pressure, put a lot of balls in the box and I was delighted with how we defended. The amount of crosses we got first contact on probably won us the game.”

On the absences of Tristan Abrahams, Jonathan Dinzeyi and Manny Mampala, he commented: “They’re all Covid related, they’re in isolation.

“We had six cases related to Covid, but I wanted to play the game. I knew we’d be a little bit short but with the starting eleven I felt we’d be more than competitive, and that’s how it panned out.

“We never really reached a point where I felt we were close to needing to call it off. I knew a couple of lads had done their isolation, we knew they’d be back on Friday.

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MATCH REPORT: Scunthorpe

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“Joe Riley has been training, he’s been given the all-clear but isn’t fully match fit. I knew I’d have maybe 12 players, but then Lewi Bell couldn’t travel because he’s been in contact with someone, so that was a last-minute absentee.

“We were short, but I did feel that we had enough to get the job done, which is how it went for us.”

“What you do get after an enforced break is a bit of tiredness,” he added. “People forget that it’s ok doing the isolation, but I’ve seen other managers moaning that you can’t then expect to train for just one day and ready to play football.

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“That’s what some of our payers have done, they’ve trained with the group for one day, so fair play to them. But, if I am going to be harsh and critical, we definitely weren’t good enough on the ball, and I’m not kidding myself that we were.

“I’m not getting carried away because I want us to be much better. I will keep trying to make us better, but what we’re seeing at the moment is a great platform to hopefully build on.

“In terms of who is available, we have to take every day as it comes. As I say, these lads have done bits and pieces at home then trained maybe one or two days. For them to come back in and perform like they did, you have to hold your hands up and say well done.”

“It’s about recovery now,” he concluded. “I love to work on the training pitch, but we’re not going to be able to do much of that at the moment.

“It will be a quick review, move on very quickly, look at what we did well, what we can improve on, then it’s about the next game, the opposition, and try to get as many players fit and available, because we’re going to need a big squad for the next couple of months.”

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