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INTERVIEW: Everyone is working hard for each other

Sam Lavelle on settling in and pushing on

27 September 2023


INTERVIEW: Everyone is working hard for each other

Sam Lavelle on settling in and pushing on

27 September 2023

Defender Sam Lavelle has really settled into life at Brunton Park, having joined the Blues on a two-year deal in the summer.

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But he admitted that there has been some frustration around through the first month and a bit of the campaign with performance levels not having been matched by results.

“The start of the season has been slightly frustrating because it feels like we should have more points than we have with us having played so well,” he said. “If we were getting outplayed or outclassed every week you’d be thinking fair enough, but we’re playing well and competing against every team we’re playing against.

“We’ve played some big teams like Derby and Wigan, and we’ve dominated them at times, but we haven’t got the results we’ve wanted.

“It’s a positive thing because we are playing well, and we are the better side in periods of the games. Saturday was the same, they went a goal up, but for the half an hour after that I thought we battered them.

“We were unlucky not to get a goal from Gibbo or Luke. Hopefully the luck will turn and those kinds of things start going our way.”

It can sometimes be the case that confidence can take a hit when performances don’t bring the deserved results, but the central defender insisted that wasn’t the case here.

“I don’t think here’s been a knock to the confidence,” he told us. “If anything we’ve gained confidence because we know we’re playing well and we’re going from strength to strength. I think at the start of the season we were getting used to the level in some ways.

“We’ve got good team spirit. When I first came here all of the lads were saying that the team spirit in this dressing room was the best they’d been in, and I’ve seen it first-hand now.

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“The lads are great, everyone is down to earth and working hard for each other behind the scenes. That will only help us, it’s growing all the time, and I think that’s showing in the performances because we’re getting better and better.”

“I settled in really quickly when I first came,” he added. “I went to Charlton and Morecambe but I think I probably found it easiest to settle in here.

“It’s not just something people say, it’s true that this is a really good dressing room. The gaffer has got a good group of staff and a good squad of players, and the people around the club are all really welcoming as well, so I settled in within days.

“We do set high standards for each other and I think those standards are getting higher as the weeks go on. Everyone has realised you can’t get away with certain things in this league that you might have got away with in League Two.

“People are adjusting to that, the standards are getting higher and the training is getting better and we’re all getting fitter. I think we’re just improving from week to week.”

Saturday’s result, of course, was another example of how the fine margins can tip either way.

“The goals on Saturday were frustrating,” he agreed. “They had two chances and scored two goals, and with a bit of luck here and there we could have gone 3-1 or 4-1 up.

“It’s about being clinical and, if you aren’t, you get punished in this league. It’s a lot sharper and a lot quicker so I think it’s more important how you live your life off the pitch. The lads are adjusting to it all and I think we’ve found our feet a bit now, it’s just about getting some goals to get wins.

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“But before Saturday we’d picked up three good results. I was so annoyed after the Lincoln game because I thought we battered them. I won’t comment on the referee, but it was almost impossible to win with him in charge.

“I knew it was a big two points dropped because we played so well and outclassed them. We should have been out of sight in the first half and that was probably the most annoyed I’ve been after a game for years. We played so well, but we just have to keep playing well and hopefully the results will come.”

Part of the processing of moving into a new club is getting to know your team mates out on the grass as each game rolls in.

“You do have to learn about the players you’re playing with,” he said. “Every player you play with is different so you’ve got to know where they’re going to run, how they’re going to act, if they’re going to win their headers and if they can do certain things.

“Relationships are important in football and the more you play and train with someone the more you get to learn their strengths and weaknesses. I think that’s building from week to week and I’m definitely feeling more confident with that.

“I said to Gav the other day that this is the first time I’ve been enjoying my football for years really. If I’m dead honest I think Lincoln last weekend was the first time I’ve really enjoyed a full game for years because everyone wanted the ball, everyone was tackling for each other, and if you went up for a header there was always someone behind you backing you up.


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“We all said at half time that it was really enjoyable and we wanted to carry it on. That’s the feeling I get, if the fans are saying the same things and they’re thinking we’re playing well as a team, and I’m playing well, then that’s all I can ask for. Confidence is a big thing in football and I think I’ve got that back now.”

But are there any real, noticeable differences to the new level of football?

“I think the biggest difference in League One is the fitness and the sharpness,” he explained. “It’s a big step up in that way, you don’t sprint away from players or outmuscle them like you sometimes can in League Two.

“You’ve got to have more quality on the ball. The biggest thing for me is the fitness, our running stats this season are a lot higher than last year, and that’s with overall distance and the high intensity running.”

And an increasing feature of his game is the range of passing, with attacks often sparking from that central defensive area.

“I like to get on the ball and it’s something I did when I was younger, but I hadn’t done for a few years,” he commented. “It’s part of my game I think I’ve got in my locker, and I enjoy that part of it.

“I’m obviously a defender, but I feel like I can start attacks as well. If I’ve got composure then I feel like that spreads throughout the team.

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“I think I’ve started the season well personally, but a goal would have topped it off. That’s probably another reason I was so annoyed after the Lincoln game because I got too much onto that header in the second half.

“I’m getting closer and it’s a part of my game I need to add. There are a few things I need to improve on but scoring goals and dominating both boxes is probably the main priority. I think me and Hunts are due one.”

The next test for the Blues is at Wycombe on Saturday.

“That will be another tough game, as they all are,” he said. “I’ve played there a few times and they’ve always had quite a direct style of play, but I think with the new manager they pass it round a bit more.

“It’s a tough place to go, they’re a well-established League One team and they nearly got promoted a few years ago.

“It’s another great test for us but I think they’re beatable. We’ve competed against the better teams in the league so if we go there and play with confidence and togetherness we’ll be alright.”

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