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Club News

MANAGER: Working to get to the levels

Paul Simpson on reserve games and injuries

1 September 2023

Club News

MANAGER: Working to get to the levels

Paul Simpson on reserve games and injuries

1 September 2023

The last fortnight has seen United play in two extremely competitive reserve fixtures – against Wigan and Blackburn – from which players have picked up valuable pitch time as manager Paul Simpson continues to remind everyone that everybody needs to be ready to step up at the drop of a hat.

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“We’ve had two really good games, but I actually think it shows the difference at the moment,” he said. “Wigan’s lads who aren’t getting in their team were stronger than us, and I thought ours were better this week than they were the previous week, but that’s the level we’ve got to get to in terms of our players who aren’t starting and our scholars who are coming on.

“That’s what we’ve got to try and get to and that’s the challenge we’re in, it’s not one we’re going to shirk or hide away from, but we’ve got to keep working as a football club to try and get to those levels.

“It’s about players being involved in these games and showing that they are ready. After the Blackburn game there weren’t many who did that, but after the Wigan game there are a couple who have jumped out.

“I had to have words with Jayden Harris after the performance at Blackburn, but he was much better in the game at Wigan, he applied himself really well, as a few of the other players I had to have words with the previous week, they all applied themselves. They tried to do things properly.

“I might have to just freshen things up in terms of who is on the bench this weekend because there are players who have been pushing and pushing since pre-season and haven’t had an opportunity, so I might need to give them a little boost and get them involved. That’s something I’ve got to decide between now and Saturday.”

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There was a scare against the Latics on Tuesday afternoon when Ben Barclay indicated that he was feeling a stiffness in his ankle.

“He’s fine, he’s trained today [Thursday],” the gaffer confirmed. “He just felt his ankle stiffening up and with the issues he had last season we weren’t prepared to take any risks.

“As much as we want to win those games and we want players to get 90 minutes, we’re not prepared to take risks.

“It was the same with Dylan McGeouch, he came off after about 70 minutes, which was always the plan, but he’s also trained this morning.

“Jack Robinson got smashed in a really bad tackle which I thought could have been a red card, then he got kicked into the crowd, but he’s ok as well. Everybody came through it and they’re all fit and available for this weekend.”

And an injury free squad is something of a luxury given last season's experiences.

“That’s what we want,” he commented. “We had a horrendous run last year with injuries and it was probably a freak run that you can’t really legislate for.

“We’ve been lucky so far this season and I’m going to touch wood on this one because I hope it carries on, but who knows when that test is going to come, and that’s why we need a group of players.

“They’ve all got to make sure they do things properly in terms of training, living their life, and in terms of when they go into matches, they’ve got to be right.

“When their opportunity comes they have to be able to take it. We’re in a situation where we’re trying to find the right permutation for a team that’s going to get a result, so everybody comes into the thinking. That’s why they have to be ready when that chance comes.”


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