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MANAGER: They need to be ready to do their bit

Paul Simpson on competition for places and an injury update

20 January 2023

Club News

MANAGER: They need to be ready to do their bit

Paul Simpson on competition for places and an injury update

20 January 2023

The postponement of Tuesday’s Cumberland Cup game meant that some of United’s first-team players missed out on the chance to get minutes into legs, but United boss Paul Simpson confirmed that a contingency plan had already been put in place in readiness for the fixture falling foul of the cold snap.

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“It was a shame to lose it but, you know me, if something like that happens we just move on,” he said. “I can’t affect the weather, I can’t do anything about it, and to be honest when I saw the temperatures on Sunday I did think it was going to be a doubt anyway.

“We were prepared for that outcome, so the lads who were due to play were given a programme to do back at home, with some running involved to make sure they got something into the legs.

“I didn’t want to drag them back into work late that day, because it was probably around 4.30pm when we found out for definite it was off.

“They did their programme then we all trained together again today [Thursday], and that went really well.

“We’re really fortunate that we have Gretna’s surface to use because we don’t have anything here that’s playable at the moment. It was a good session, I’m really pleased with the quality I’ve seen and you can tell that the new faces have added to the competition.

“We had 22 outfield players training, including Max Kilsby, Lewis Bell and Sam Fishburn, so that’s 19 who are fighting for those places come Saturday. That can only ever be good for us if everybody stays with the right mentality.

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“That’s the conversation I’ve had with them this morning, because I’ve been in this situation as a player myself. You find that you’re looking over your shoulder and wondering if you’re going to be involved, but that’s just how it is.

“Any decisions made will never be done on a personal level, it’s for that particular game, that opponent. The eleven I think should start might be different to the next game, it’s all down to who I think will do the job for us.

“Everybody has to be ready to do their bit because when their opportunity comes they have to be prepared to take it.”

One player in particular who was ready to be unleashed was Ben Barclay, who is now back and fully recovered from his ankle injury.

“He’s been able to train for a while now so he’s getting his fitness up, and that meant that the game being off on Tuesday wasn’t too much of a blow,” he told us.

“Sometimes the matches are more about the psychological side of it, to get your head tuned in to playing again.


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“We know that when he comes back into it he’ll be blowing out of his backside after an hour or so, he has to accept that because that’s what playing in a competitive match does to you.

“With JK Gordon last weekend we weren’t sure how long we would get out of him, and we didn’t expect Omari to be able to start the game.

“The plan was always to get him for 20-odd minutes, so it’s a case of Ben building himself up. When he gets the opportunity we’ll try to get as much out of him as we possibly can and we’ll see how he does.”

Meanwhile Ryan Edmondson [Shoulder] and Taylor Charters [hamstring] were back in the building this week following their respective surgical procedures.

“This is the start of their recovery period now,” he explained. “I said that to both of them after their surgery, because it’s on them to do this bit right.

“I’m looking forward to having them back, so they have to live their lives properly, do their rehab work and make sure they come back stronger.

“Let’s remember, when they’re back into it they’ll be giving me more selection headaches. That’s something else to look forward to.”

“This week we also had Scott Simons who needed surgery on his thumb,” he concluded. “He was sent for an x-ray, because it still hadn’t settled after he’d pulled it a bit when he threw a ball, and we expect him to be missing for six or seven weeks as he goes through the rehab for that.”

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