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MANAGER: Some were planned, some weren't

Paul Simpson on injuries and team selection changes

16 March 2022

Tuesday night’s home game against Newport saw manager Paul Simpson make changes to the starters for the first time in his five games in charge.

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Explaining that some of the decisions had been enforced, he told us: “We know about Jamie Devitt, and he had a scan on his hamstring at half-seven tonight [Tuesday].

“I don’t know anything more, I’ve no idea what the result of that is. It’s either going to be a couple of weeks or six weeks, depending.

“I’m waiting to hear whether or not the scan has been read this evening, I haven’t been told yet, so that’s one that was forced on us.

“Jon Mellish had a little bit of an issue with his partner, who is expecting, and we were a bit concerned. He was telling us that he wanted to be involved, he wanted to play, but it was touch and go whether or not he’d get here for half-six.

“I had to make the call early on that one and I told him I couldn’t start him, but he’d be on the bench. Thankfully Mells made it and everything is ok with the issue he had.”

“I thought we had a good replacement for him in Rod McDonald. He looked comfortable,” he added. “I thought he was strong and positive, and it’s good to see him back.

“To be honest with you I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to have Rod and Brennan Dickenson playing the full 90 minutes, it’s probably too early for them.

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“I thought Rod got stronger playing out wide as the half went on in the second half. He’ll be tired but I’m sure he’ll want to go again come the next one. 

“But I thought Bren did really well and he’ll also get stronger. With the other changes I decided to freshen things up.

“Mitch Roberts has trained really well in the time I’ve been here and I felt he would add some energy over on the left.

“He didn’t quite get up and down, and there were times when he looked positive and like he could be a threat, but I felt I needed to change it and try and get an extra forward on later in the game.

“There’s nothing wrong with Jack Armer, I just wanted to change things up, so Jack will be fine for the weekend.”

“I felt as though Tobi Sho-Silva deserved an opportunity to start the game and give Kristian Dennis a bit of a rest, so I’m not laying any blame on them,” he explained. “Denno has worked his socks off with very little reward and I thought Tobi with his physical strength and pace might give them problems.

“It didn’t quite happen for Tobi up there, but Denno is fine, he’s ok. It was good to get Tyrese on, and he was really positive.

“I spoke to Tyrese on Monday and just said, that’s where I see him being a threat, outside, going and being positive and getting at people.

“He loves a one against one and he got into some good areas. He shouldn’t get screwed up about missing that chance. Hopefully he learns for the next one.

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“It was a little bit unfortunate he blazed it over the bar, with a little bit of calmness and a bit more experience he might have been able to just stroke it far post, and if he doesn’t score maybe somebody gets the bits.

“But we have to accept these lads are learning the game, that’s why they’re here. They’re all learning the game and will all benefit from it, if we can just be patient and stay with them.”

Four changes after a settled period is bound to bring a challenge of a different kind, and the manager admitted that he’d have preferred not to have had to make so many in one fell swoop.

“I thought three was enough,” he revealed. “I’d made my decision on freshening it up, told the players I was going to do that.

“It’s unfortunate but I can’t criticise anybody because, as far as I’m concerned, family is your most important and Mells had to be with his partner. That’s massive, the biggest thing in your life.

“Thankfully everything seems ok, and he made it for the game. We’ve just got to deal with it and go again.

“I wanted a bit of freshness, a bit of energy, unfortunately it wasn’t just the changes that caused us to have the issue; I thought as a full eleven we weren’t quite at it first half, and that’s why you get done.”

“It was just one of those nights where we didn’t hit the standards we have done over the last four weeks,” he concluded. “But, there are loads of positives we can take from the way we ended the game.

“We got the goal back and maybe with more of a scoring instinct we might have got another when balls are flashing across the box and strikers aren’t getting across the front post and things like that.

“We had a few scrambles, but let’s not take anything away from Newport, they’re a good side and probably over the 90 minutes they deserved to win it. We have to dust ourselves down and get ready for the next one.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Paul Simpson on iFollow United now.

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