Kevin Blackwell looks forward and ahead to the MK Dons game
‘The lads are back after having a few days off and they have trained well. We worked them particularly hard on Monday & Tuesday and we are ready to go again now. We are two players down after the Tranmere game on New Year’s Day following Matt Doherty and Peter Sweeney leaving.
We’ve got some of the loan players extended, and without them we would be struggling to put a team out on Saturday. It was important that they were extended, we all know that we haven’t been able to fill the bench in the games over Christmas so it was vitally important that they extended so that we could put a team out.
All four clubs have allowed their players to stay with us and that’s something of a feather in our caps. The fact that Premier League & Championship clubs have recognised the work that has been done here. Matt Doherty is the only one not to come back and we think he may be involved in their first team on Friday evening. Again we have to thank Leeds, Leicester, Wolves and Bolton for letting me keep their players.
I knew when I first came in and said it very early that we would have to build three or four teams before the end of the season. It does make it tough, but that’s the game of football. I knew it would be tough. I was under no illusions that his was going to be easy; it was just disappointing that we couldn’t maintain it due to the finances.
We had no chance of keeping Doherty, there were plenty of clubs here watching him and again its recognition of just what he has achieved and what we have done with him. We always knew that we were running a risk with him. Wolves have let us keep Ethan even though there were two other clubs that wanted to take him.
Right not the depth of the squad is paper thing and we need players that can play in two or three positions, and Ethan can sit in midfield, at centre half and at right back. It’s just another month at the moment. With the embargo we cannot dictate what happens at the moment, we are being dictated to and as the manager that is a frustrating thing for me.
The only reason we have been able to keep these loan players is because they were registered with us before the embargo came in. The Football League have said that we cannot sign anyone new, but we might be able to keep some of the loan players for longer, which is what we have done. If we had tried to keep all five of them, I don’t think the league would have let us keep any. To be fair to them, they can see that we are trying to do something by reducing the wage bill and they have relented a little bit.
We do have trialists with us, but at the moment we cannot do anything with them, but when the embargo is lifted then it will be like looking for that diamond again, as we did with Tom Soares and Seb Carole.
We’ve seen in the last four or five games that we are creating chances, but not putting them away. We are missing the two experienced strikers in Andy Bishop and David Healy, that’s really been a handicap to us. For me that’s cost us between 6 and ten points and maybe even still being involved in one of the cups. Hopper and Hewitt both need resting, they are only young lads. If we had better resources, Tom Hopper would not have played half the games that he has played, so looking forward, I think we need more experience so if I can, I would like to sign a couple of experienced strikers and maybe a centre half.
We’ve got our eye on people, though unfortunately we’ve seen this week some of them joining other clubs. We are in this embargo and not in the driving seat. Joe Garner has gone to Preston, he was on our list. Frank Nobelo has gone to Ipswich, you have to look at the list and cross the names off. The players that we are looking at have also been identified by other clubs but we will try when we can try.
Ever since I have been here, this team has been competitive, nobody has tonked us and I hope that’s not a pre-cursor, but MK Dons did that to us here and beat us quite heavily. They put four past us but it could have been more. I know we are going there with 14 to 16 players but the players we take will give everything that they have got. They will put a performance on.
We will go with a game plan and hopefully we may get some of the luck that we haven’t had yet. Even with the numbers we do have left; there will be four or five changes from the team that played MK Dons here. Troy Hewitt and Andrai Jones have both been told to stay away because of this vomiting bug that is going around, we will look at them once everyone has left because I don’t want them in spreading the virus. They haven’t trained all week, and it becomes hard to get them in the team when they have not trained all week.’