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INTERVIEW: Jake coming in will definitely strengthen that department

Gav Skelton on Ben Barclay and the appointment of Jake Simpson

13 September 2023


INTERVIEW: Jake coming in will definitely strengthen that department

Gav Skelton on Ben Barclay and the appointment of Jake Simpson

13 September 2023

United defender Ben Barclay is well down the road to recovery already having picked up a troublesome calf injury during the post-match session held on the pitch following the last home game.

“Ben still has a few weeks to go, which is frustrating for him following last season,” assistant manager Gav Skelton said. “The injuries he’s getting are strange injuries that are coming from nothing, which must make it even more frustrating for him.

“I’m sure he’ll have some lonely hours, but he’ll hang in there. Games like he had in the Bradford play-off game are the type of thing that make all the ups and downs worth it.

“I don’t think you get those type of moments in any other walk of life, which is why we all love being involved in football.

“It will be so frustrating for him because he wants to help the lads, but he showed last year that he came back and had a positive impact, so we expect the same from Ben, or anyone else who gets injured.

“There’s only him in the treatment room at the moment so it will be tough for him to be doing his rehab when the rest of the lads are out training.

“I think sometimes we don’t give them credit for the strength of character they have. It must be really difficult, especially with the injuries he had last year. I’m sure he’ll come back and have a real impact on the group.”

In to help with that side of things, as well as overall performance and standards, is Jake Simpson, as was announced on Tuesday.

“People are carrying bigger squads these days, and with more players comes more demand,” he told us. “As squad sizes go up, so does staff size. Jake coming in will definitely strengthen that department.

“The gaffer understands the importance of a structure behind the scenes and he’s always looking for small margins to help us. If someone can improve us by 1 or 2% then it helps.

“Hopefully it will be 10 or 20% but any improvement is massive in football. You see that in the games, there hasn’t been a lot in any of the games, so the small margins can really make an impact.

“Like I say, I think squads are bigger now, so naturally with the gaffer being in the FA, you see the structure behind him, he’s really good at organising the back-up team.

“When you play other teams you see the amount of staff they have in certain areas. It’s a massive part of football now, sports science.

“That strengthens what we’ve got and he’ll bring a lot of strengths to it. It helps that I know him quite well, because he played for me at Workington.

“Him coming into the building, I don’t think it will be too difficult, it will just be natural. I always think you need to know the club, that gives you a massive benefit – there’ll be no surprises in the strengths and weaknesses, so he’ll come in and hit the ground running without having to find his feet for three or four weeks. 

“We’re getting someone that knows the club, and that’s a big thing because he wants to do well for the club. He’s very organised and should hopefully know how it works.

“Sometimes when people come in to that side, it’s not just the knowledge, you need to know how to deal with players.

“He’s got vast experience of it, from playing and working in it, which is a massive thing, and for some strange reason I bet he has the belief of the manager as well.

“Him and possibly others coming in as well is building a structure, and that’s what the manager’s really keen to do.

“It’s building a strong infrastructure so we don’t just have success now, but it gives a better chance of success over a period. That can only ever be good.”

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