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MANAGER: Things are getting better

An injury update from Paul Simpson

10 November 2022

A meaty challenge during the Harrogate game on Tuesday left midfielder Owen Moxon with some nasty stud marks on his thigh, and with everyone else concerned that the injury curse was about to strike again.

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“Mox is fine,” manager Paul Simpson reassured us. “I think I called it a ‘superficial would’ when he cracked his head open a few weeks ago, but this one isn’t quite as bad as that.

“There wasn’t really any blood coming out of his thigh on Tuesday, it’s a little scratch. You can see where about six studs have raked along the thigh, but he’s ok. He’ll be available for the weekend.

“We had a few lads who got dead legs, they’re struggling, and Kris Dennis has got a little bit of a reaction which is more of a neural issue than muscular in his calf. We need to see how he is.

“Apart from that I think everybody else has come through feeling good. Denno isn’t ruled out for the weekend yet, he’s had treatment today and we’re looking at what the right course is to take for him from there.

“It’s something that’s gone on for a few weeks now, and in the first minute of the Tranmere league game he actually felt that something wasn’t right. Adrenalin got him through that one, but he was sore the following week.

“He missed the next game after that, then he was back again when it settled down for Tuesday, but we need to get it sorted. We can’t have him playing, then needing to rest, then playing in fits and starts.

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“That affects fitness levels, it affects his ability to keep the consistency we’ve seen from him, so I want to try to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible, for his sake more than anything else.

“If he isn’t completely ready for Saturday then I won’t be risking him. Hopefully we’ll get some sort of resolution to it over the next 48 hours.

“Jack Stretton is fine again, so he adds to our options up front, and it’ll be up to me to decide who it is we go with.”

There was yet more good news when it was also confirmed that Ben Barclay, Jamie Devitt and Joel Senior are out on the grass and edging ever closer to a return.

“All three of those lads have joined in training with the rest of the group today,” he told us. “Joel has actually trained this week, but it is still too early for him to be considered for a first team game.

“We’re looking to maybe get him involved for part of the game against Bransty on Tuesday, but we’ll see how he goes over the next few days.

“He’s feeling so much better in himself because he’s having to make block tackles and stretch, and work hard, which includes changing direction and twisting without even thinking about it.

“He’s coming through all of that and getting more and more confident with the process he’s been through.

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“Dev’s also trained this week, and Ben has been back in with us this morning, so we are getting there with these lads.

“I’m hoping Ben and Dev may play some part on Tuesday as well. Dev is maybe a little bit ahead of Ben, but they’re both looking really good.

“It’s been a couple of weeks since ben had that setback but hopefully he won’t be out for too much longer.”

“We’ve still got Brennan Dickenson and Josh Dixon who are plugging away, and they’re on course for a return at some point next year,” he added. “Omari is still on track for the middle of December.

“Hopefully we’ll see him out on the grass next week, it’ll be good to see him out with us again. We’re getting closer with so many of them and we just have to keep our fingers crossed that we don’t pick any more up and that we keep everybody involved.

“Keeper wise Scott Simons was back with his gloves on with the keepers this morning, but he didn’t take part in any of the games.

“He did the warm-up and he’s being doing the same for about a week or so now. I don’t really know where he’s at, but the forecast for him was the middle of December and I’m presuming it’s still the same.

“Until he’s able to join the group and take part in our games in training I don’t look too closely at the possibility of him being involved. We’ll see how he goes over the next few weeks.

“I see him in the gym working extremely hard and I know he’s really keen to be back out there.”

The return of more bodies will, of course, add to the sense of competition across all positions and areas of the pitch.

“This is where we can talk about rotation,” he insisted. “It’s definitely not about people being dropped.

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“Jack Ellis had done nothing to be dropped on Tuesday, neither had Jordan Gibson, but sometimes I look at it and feel that I want freshness in there.

“I will continue to do that and hopefully, when I do, I’ll get it right more times than I get it wrong. We all know the injury situation has gone against us, but it’s part of the game and there’s no point getting strung up on it.

“We’re looking at a bigger group being available going forward and hopefully we get a better run of results off that.

“If we think about strikers, I’ve always felt that it’s good to have two strikers on the bench. When I turn round I like to feel confident that they can do a job, and we’re getting that now.

“With each player that comes back from injury you hope it makes us better as a group and gives is a better base to build off.

“We have the Cumberland Cup in midweek, so we could possibly get minutes for people there. We’re trying to organise another reserve game at end of month.

“I want players to play. We saw with Tobi last weekend that he was shattered after 60 minutes, and that’s because we had to get him back when it was possibly too early.

“Players need match minutes to get match fitness, it’s something that can’t be simulated, so reserve games are of great benefit to them for that.”

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