It’s been a while since we’ve had to start a press conference with an injury update, but with a few concerns following last weekend, we thought that was the prudent place to start when we sat down with manager Paul Simpson on Thursday afternoon.
On defender Fin Back, who was clattered during a touchline challenge on Tuesday night, he said: “His eye is a little bit swollen, but he’s fine.
“He took a bit of a whack on it, but he’ll be ok. The medical staff are happy that they’ve done what they need to do and he’s trained this morning with no problems, so there are no concerns over him.”
“We mentioned on Tuesday night that Jack Armer had a spasm in his shoulder blades on his back after the game on Saturday,” he added.
“He’s been treated this week with Chris Brunskill in the medical department, but he’s also trained today, so he’ll be ok.
“Our only real concern is Ben Barclay. It’s not great for him, as I said the other night. We’re looking at a period out, but he’s already started with his rehab work and that will continue now over the next few weeks.
“We had a couple of knocks from the other night after a bruising encounter but everyone else has come through it ok and they’ve all declared themselves fit.
“It’s just a case of getting the selection right now.”
Having mentioned what was a very physical midweek encounter, we wondered if his review of the Tuesday game had thrown light on more positives, particularly from a dominant first half.
“My thoughts are still the same,” he insisted. “There were some contentious refereeing decisions that I’ve been able to see again on the replay.
“I know the refs don’t have the ability to do that during a game but there were some strange ones that I’ve asked for observations on. The big thing was I thought there were a lot of positive things from the first half in particular, but you have to go and finish the chances off.
“There were some good individual performances and I’m talking about the first half again, with some good unit stuff. We created some real good chances, we just didn’t make the most of them and benefit from those.
“In the second half we let ourselves down and we weren’t good enough. We gave the ball away a little bit sloppily and we weren’t able to deal with the way they pressed us. There are certainly areas we need to improve on.”
The manager had mentioned in previous interviews that it can sometimes be unfair to place expectations on players who haven’t had regular competitive pitch time.
“We expect them to do the simple things well, and I don’t know if that is expecting too much,” he commented. “I felt as though the players were in a good place going into the game, they’ve had a couple of good workouts against Blackburn and Wigan so they weren’t going into it on the back of weeks without games.
“I’m not going to make excuses, it was a different level of intensity, but it’s a level of intensity they have to get used to because there’s every chance some of them could be needed on Saturday against Stevenage, and the high intensity levels will definitely be there on Saturday.
“The players have got to be able to deal with it and unfortunately in the second half on Tuesday we weren’t able to do that, which is something we’ve got to learn from.”