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Club News

MANAGER: We'll have to make changes

Paul Simpson on numbers available for the weekend

1 November 2023

Club News

MANAGER: We'll have to make changes

Paul Simpson on numbers available for the weekend

1 November 2023

Having been able to run with a relatively settled side through October manager Paul Simpson is faced with two definite absentees for the trip to Orient with Jack Armer and Alfie McCalmont both suspended following last weekend’s sendings off.

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“As I said at the weekend, and after watching again on the video, I still don’t believe that I’ve seen anything different with either red card,” the gaffer said. “Jack’s were two sloppy, lazy yellow cards, and Alfie was a little bit unfortunate.

“I do see why the referee had to do it, because of the height his boot was at and the fact you could see studs, so by the letter of the law it was a sending off. There was no leg to stand on in terms of an appeal at all.

“They’re out of it, but we have players who are waiting to come in. I can sit here now and say Jack Robinson will be playing, unless anything happens between now and Saturday afternoon.

“He absolutely deserves his opportunity, he’s earned it, and it’s up to Jack to show what he’s all about.

“Jack Armer has been consistent ever since I came in, he’s been probably one of our most consistent performers. But he let himself down with two sloppy decisions last weekend and it’s going to cost him in an FA Cup tie now.”

“We’re still waiting to see how Fin Back is and when he will recover fully from this dead leg that he’s got from the Burton game,” he added. “Jordan Gibson has had a bit of a disrupted week, in fact going back to last Friday when his partner went into labour.

“Thankfully mum and baby both came through last night ok and he’s got a real healthy little girl now. We’re going to wait and see when he comes back how he is because he’s been with Emma all week.

“He’s had work to do back at home, which he’s done, but we’ll see. I think he had a troubled night last Friday because we were caught in a bit of a dilemma as to whether he needed to go to Cambridge.

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“It was Jake’s birthday last Friday, and I missed Jake’s birth because I was told I had to play on the Saturday afternoon away at Watford, and he was born at five to three. I will never put any player through that.

“I told Jordan on Friday ‘You need to go home, you can’t afford to miss this, it’s too important’. He said ‘I want to stay and play, I’ll be ok’. Whether he was ok I can’t really answer that, but he went back home after that.

“The labour has carried on over the weekend and into Tuesday evening so she’s had a bit of a tough time, but thankfully both of them are ok now.

“Jordan has been doing some work back at home, physical work because he can’t have a touch of the ball, but we’ll get him back in on Friday and see whether he’s in the right frame of mind to play.

“I would imagine he’s going to be absolutely buzzing, it’s just whether he’s right to play on Saturday.” 

Back in contention are defender Paul Huntington and midfielder Dylan McGeouch.

“They will be involved, they’ll be in the squad,” he confirmed. “As it stands at the moment we’re actually struggling to fill the bench because we’re allowed nine subs for this competition.

“The group that we’ve got, I’m not going to be bringing any out of the youth team because that would send a false message if I did. We probably won’t have a full bench to choose from, but we’ll hopefully be able to pick the right side and have good replacements to come on and help when needed.

“None of the other injured players will be back for this weekend. Jack Ellis has had a third time that he’s tried to get out on the grass with us and get some sort of loading on, but he’s still not right.

“He’s going to go and have an injection into the area just to see if that will help to settle it down. He will be off his feet for the rest of this week and then we’ll start to see how he’s reacting next week.

“I think the way it’s looking with Fin Back, if he’s not fit to train on Friday he won’t travel. I just don’t see the point in him coming along and sitting on a train and coach for the number of hours we’re going to do.

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“If he’s not fit for Saturday the important thing is to get him fit for the following weekend and have another player available. We’ve still got a decision to be made over the next couple of days but if he’s not fit, he won’t be coming.

“Taylor Charters has started to build up his work and he’s going to join in the full session on Friday with the rest of the group, and then we’re probably looking at a week or two weeks of full training before he can be considered for selection. JJ is still long term, and apart from that I think that’s where we are.”

And he confirmed that all of the loan players bar one had been granted permission to feature in the competition.

“Terry Ablade and Luke Plange have both been given permission, but as we sit here now we’re still waiting to hear from Reading about Jokull,” he told us. “We asked the question a good while ago, and we were told we’d get an answer, and we’ve been chasing that up.

“I’m told that there’s nobody at Reading today to give us a definitive response, so hopefully we’ll get that before Friday. That isn’t ideal, but they told us when we first agreed the loan that they wouldn’t give him permission, but we could discuss it again nearer the time.

“We’ve been waiting for an answer and we’re still waiting at the moment. Hopefully he will be available, we’ll just have to wait and see.

“The selection isn’t going to be a case of rotating players, it’ll be what I believe is the best 11 to do the job. The bench will then select itself because of numbers available, and all of them have to go and perform.

“I’m tired of coming out after games and having to answer questions about not performing and where does this leave us, and all of this kind of thing. I want us to go and perform and the only thing I want to concern myself about this weekend is seeing if we can into the second round of the FA Cup.

“We have to play well to do that, we have to earn the right to get a result, and if we do that we can make it a good day.”

Meanwhile Jayden Harris, who is out on loan at Eastleigh, has been given permission to appear should he be required.

“We’ve said yes because we want him to be out there and showing what he can do,” he confirmed. “Hopefully he’ll get that chance this weekend.

“He needs games. Last weekend he had the disappointment of being subbed after 25 minutes. I’ve watched their game back and I’ve had a conversation with their manager as well.

“This is an opportunity for Jayden to learn how to play football on a proper stage. It didn’t happen for him last week so if he’s picked this week he’s got to show everybody what he’s all about.”

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