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Club News

MANAGER: A driving up of standards

Paul Simpson on healthy competition for places

26 January 2023

It was club debut number four for striker Joe Garner on Tuesday night against Hartlepool and he received exactly the kind of reception expected when he came on to replace Kris Dennis late in the game.

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“It’s brilliant to get him on there and to have him here,” manager Paul Simpson said. “We had it in our minds that we wanted to get him on, we just wanted it to be the right time.

“We wanted Denno to het his hat-trick, but he had his chance and missed it, so he had to come off just to save him and get Joe on.

“What a fantastic recovery tackle from him at the end. Unfortunately the big lad has got injured and hopefully the x-ray will show that it isn’t too bad. That sort of spirit from Joe is what we’ll need from everyone to keep us going forward.

“I saw the tackle live, and I’ve watched it back three or four times, and it looks a brilliant tackle. The referee was in a good position and he didn’t give the free kick, and I don’t know if it looks different from a different view.

“It was a brilliant attitude to want to win the ball back and to keep going, and that’s right at the end of the game. It really is what we need.”

“We’re looking after Joe as well as we can, he’s come into it, and we want him to play a part,” he added. “Another thing that’s happened in the last two weeks with the new players coming in, the whole standards in training have gone up, the demands on each other have gone up, I think that was reflected in the performance on Tuesday and long may that continue. 

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“I just think the bench looked so strong. When you consider we’ve got Ben Barclay, Tobi and Jayden Harris didn’t even make the bench, Jack Ellis to come back soon, Ryan Edmondson, Taylor Charters to come back into it, it’s really nice to be in that position.

“We’ve had to really dig in for the first 20-odd games, with the injury list we’ve had. And now I’m hoping we’re over that, that we’ve got a little bit of luck in keeping players fit and available, and the only changes will be me having to make decisions of what’s the right selection. 

“The driving up of standards means we have players doing more of the things that make a team play well. I thought we had that from JK as well, when he was on the pitch. That’s what you have to do.

“You have to work. Football is a running game - you have to be physical, robust enough to make repeated sprints, to keep going back and forward.

“It’s a thing I’m talking to the players about all the time. If we want to be successful, we have to run and run, it’s not easy, nothing gets given to you, it doesn’t come on a plate. Work hard, you’re more likely to get three points.”

With back-to-back victories under the belt, it’s a group that’s looking confident at exactly the right time.

“I told them before they went out there to respect the opposition but also have belief in what we’ve done and what we’re doing,” he said. “They’ve done it really well so far and it’s them, they’re the ones doing this for us.

“One of Hartlepool’s players came off the pitch and said wow, what a team you’ve got there. That’s what it is, it’s a team who are all driving each other on.

“That’s good, we need to keep that spirit. I know spirit comes from winning games of football and we’re going to get a little blip at some point. That’s why we have to make sure everybody sticks together.”

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