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Clark: Defensively, we looked strong

Manager Lee Clark was naturally delighted with the 1-0 win against Walsall in the opening game of the season but was also quick to praise his defensive unit for allowing keeper Joe Murphy to have a fairly quiet afternoon.

6 August 2017

“You always want to start the season with a win, and I am happy that we have. The clean sheet is a great start for us and defensively, we looked strong, we looked sound and we stopped Walsall from hurting us. Even though the basics of goalkeeping from Joe Murphy were of a high standard, he hasn’t had a lot of saves to make and that’s down to the work of the lads in front of him.”

Whilst delighted to have three points in the bag, Lee was adamant than when presented with another penalty, he would have no problems with Jermaine Beckford or Chris Maguire stepping up to the plate to take another one.

“We’ve scored a great goal from a set piece, and we are always going to have that opportunity when we have Chris Maguire in the team with his deliveries, and unbelievably we have missed two penalties from two lads that probably haven’t missed many penalties in their careers.

“When you miss two penalties in the same game, you tend to get the feeling that it’s not going to be your day and they could sneak an equaliser or something, but the lads withstood the pressure that was thrown at us in the last ten minutes. We defended every ball and defended extremely well.  We protected Joe and if they did break through, he was in a great starting position to keep that clean sheet

“We have to credit their keeper for two great penalty saves, neither were particularly bad penalties.  I hope both players are ok having seen them saved.  If and when we get another penalty, I wouldn’t hesitate if either Chris or Jermaine take them.  That’s football, that’s what it’s about.  The natural born striker will miss a sitter but 30 seconds later will put it away.  As an attacking player, they have to have that selfish streak.

One concern from the game was the injury that forced Jay O’Shea out of the game, but Lee Clark was waiting for the knock to settle before being assessed for any potential damage.

“We had to replace Jay O’Shea following his injury, we are not too sure on him at the momentum, it’s too soon to assess an injury like this straight after the game.  It needs a period of time to settle down but hopefully, it’s just a kick.  If it's anything worse and his leg has planted into the ground and he has tweaked his knee, then we hope not.  We have too many of those already.  It's fingers crossed on him because he did a lot of hard work and showed flashes of his great ability.  Hopefully, when he gets assessed properly, we will have some good news.

The surprise announcement on Friday evening regarding Harry Bunn caught many off guard, but the gaffer is hoping to add him to his starting eleven as quickly as possible.

“Hopefully I will have Jay O’Shea and Harry Bunn available for Thursday.  Again, I have had tremendous backing from the chairman in bringing Harry Bunn to join the club.  We’ve spent a long three or four days on this one, but initially made the first contact many weeks ago.

“On Thursday, it was on and off, on and off – maybe even seven or eight times throughout the day.  I was back in the North East with the family and got a thick ear of the wife. We went shopping but I spent two hours on the phone, we took the dog for a walk but I was never off the phone.  In the end, she sent me back to Carrington and told me to get on with my job, but at least I got the player in.

“In all seriousness though, when we got the green light, and we tried extremely hard to get him registered in time for the game but we ran out of time.  We even tried to get him off the training ground at Huddersfield.  It didn’t happen but we are more than happy to get him over the line.

“He’s bought into the ambition and I believe we have a fantastic player to add to the other ones that we already have.  It makes us stronger with more quality coming in, it gives me so many options to change formation.  I wanted players that do what it says on the tin, he is an attacking player that makes and scores goals.  In the friendly game, here I thought he was outstanding, I am looking forward to working with him and am really excited about it.”

Watch the full iFollow video interview with Lee Clark here, or watch a teaser below

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