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MANAGER: We are still looking

Paul Simpson with another injury and illness update

16 August 2023

Manager Paul Simpson has explained for a number of weeks that he’ll be using the squad to its fullest extent this season, with players sometimes completely left out of the 18 having perhaps featured heavily in the previous fixture.

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And that situation, of course, could be further complicated should injuries and illness be thrown into the mix, as they were over the course of the last few days.

“Dylan McGeouch has done a bit of work today [Tuesday] so we’re hoping we can build him up and get him back into full training,” he explained after the game against Wigan.

“Saturday is probably too early for him, mostly because we’ve got others, people like Jayden Harris and Taylor Charters, who are fully fit. Jayden was really unfortunate to miss out, it’s the mix I want on the bench that has to be right, so people like him, Corey, Jack Robinson, they were left out of it.

“Fin Back, I had to do it, that’ll be the last time with Fin, he’s now available as far as I’m concerned. It’s not that Forest have said he isn’t allowed to play, they’re just advising us not to play him.

“That’s the last one of those now though, we’ve got two weeks before we go Saturday-Tuesday again. We’ve done everything they’ve asked, he’s getting all the minutes and doing everything in training, so it’s now a case of selection as to whether he gets in the team or not.

“There are people like Jayden who I think has done really well so far, but it’s all about the mix I want on the bench. There was a group of five or six lads who trained on Tuesday afternoon because it’s important.

“I only put 18 in the squad, which isn’t what I normally do, but it was important that the others got training into them. They’ll come into the team and we expect them to come in and be up to speed, and that’s why they trained.

“We’ve got a friendly fixture arranged next week, Central League Cup the week after, and then the Trophy game the week after that. We’ve got games coming thick and fast and we need to give them the opportunity to show us what they’re all about.”

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Goalscorer Owen Moxon was one who had missed out last Saturday due to a rather nasty bug.

“He worked his socks off, he was cramping up, but I’d already got the subs getting ready because they were about to be coming on,” the gaffer told us.

“Then he got cramp on the far side and there was no way we were going to be taking any risks. I had it in my head that he was going to do 60-70 minutes, I didn’t think we’d get much more if he was going to work at full tilt.

“I’m pleased he’s got through it. So long as they all recover properly he’ll be ready to go again Saturday. Him coming off was all down to that cramp. I’d asked him two or three minutes earlier and he said when was ok, then he went down with cramp, it’s a no brainer then and he has to come out of it.

“The fact is that he hadn’t done anything, he’s probably been bedridden from Wednesday through until Sunday morning. He’s been eating properly since Sunday afternoon. I didn’t expect to get 90 out of him, but I wanted him in the team.” 

Striker Sean Maguire had missed out due to family matters, and his return certainly whetted the appetite as he grew into the game.

“We’ve had to be patient, I would have loved to have had him in to start for the first game of the season, but he wasn’t fully fit,” he said. “We took a bit of a gamble on Tuesday because we thought 60 minutes would be his maximum, and I think he got a bit more than that.

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15 August 2023

“He got smashed in a challenge and I found it incredible that a free kick wasn’t given, then he got booked for his troubles. I thought he was excellent, he shows real intelligence with the runs he makes and the quality of passing he shows.

“He’s that level we’re looking for, but there were other players who stepped up s well. I thought Mellish was outstanding with the way he worked, Owen Moxon showed bits of quality and Callum Guy got things ticking over.

“I could go through loads of them. The second half was so much more like what I want to see, what the players want to do and also what the fans want to see.

“Sean is just a real pro. He texted me on Saturday night, then I spoke to him on Sunday, and he came in Monday morning. I think he’s had a tough few days, him and his wife, but thankfully he felt he was ready to play. He wanted to play.

“I asked him on Monday morning if he could give me at least 60 minutes and he said yes, he definitely could, so that will do him the world of good. When you have family issues going on, as a footballer, they hurt, it’s really difficult.

“The right thing for him was to stay behind, I had no problem with that at all. You can never cancel it out of your mind, but you want to be playing football, back out doing what you do best. I thought he was excellent the way he went about it.

“He’s just a dynamic sort of player. You look at him, he’s a little fella like me and he’s getting up and winning headers against centre-backs. He’s got a great leap on him, he’s got great energy about him, he makes clever runs and he’s got some power.

“We want to see the best of him. I think with him, when we get Dan Butterworth fully fit, I think he’ll bring it, when Luke Plange settles himself into it, he’ll show us what he’s all about. I’m pleased with what we’ve got, I know I keep saying I still want to add to it because I think we need some more, we need a bit more in the group to make us better.”

So what about the ongoing quest to add more to the group.

“We are still looking, we definitely want to try and do something else if we possibly can, but it’s flipping hard,” he insisted. “We’ve had no enquiries about any of ours and I want it to stay that way.


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“We’ve got a small group and I still think we need a minimum of one. I will say the directors aren’t stopping me from doing it, there are funds available, it’s finding the right players.

“We’ve looked at Fleetwood, Oxford and Wigan and we can’t compete financially with any of them, we can’t get that type of player in. We’ve got to try and be lucky and nick the right person and personality.

“We’ll keep looking until the window closes and with a bit of luck we might get the right one. I don’t think that will be before this weekend.

“I’ll be surprised if there’s anything by Saturday, but we’ll keep working until we can give everybody some good news.”

Talking about targets, he added: “We have to have a list, because even with the goalkeeper situation, we talked to Premier League clubs and had a definite was coming in. We’d been speaking to Reading, we spoke to other clubs about their goalkeepers, and it’s waiting for the right one to drop.

“In terms of the others, we’ve got a whole host we’ve got tickling along, but we just don’t know which ones are going to drop. We’ve probably had four players who we’re enquiring about over the summer and we thought we had a chance, and they’re on the bench in the Premier League over the last weekend. They’re been needed by their own clubs.

“We’re going to keep looking and trying to do it, and we’ll work as late as we have to in the window to see if we can get the right one. Because there are some funds available, it’s not that the directors have tightened the purse strings.

“We’ve got funds available, it’s finding the right ones to spend it on. We’re speaking to a Premier League club last week and they were saying you can have him as a free loan, but we don’t know whether he’s going to be able to play for us. We’re not sure if he’s good enough.

“I don’t want to just stockpile bodies, I want them able to do a job for us. We’re not going to just take them for the sake of it, if it means the right one isn’t available we won’t bring anybody in.

“We’ve got to be sure in our minds we’re bringing in someone that can affect us. That’s where we are now, this is the level we’re at. If they can’t do it, they’re not going to do us any favours, and to be fair we aren’t going to do them any favours, because they aren’t going to play for us.”

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