Michael Skubala spoke to the press ahead of the weekend fixture at Burton Albion, shortly before the re-signing of experienced midfielder Conor McGrandles from Charlton Athletic was announced.
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Squad Competition: MS took stock of his options, with additions to the squad having been made plus players returning from injury and suspensions.
MS now has five options for centre half, with every one of them performing well when they have played. Paudie O’Connor is available post-suspension, so it’s a really nice problem to have the five chomping at the bit. “Let’s see how we go on there”.
There will be opportunities for the defenders as MS is flexible in terms of deploying a back four or otherwise. The set-up will be determined on a game-by-game basis and within games themselves. It’s a fluid approach and the players are really starting to ‘get’ that.
Ben House is back in the frame and could best be described as available for some minutes. Due recognizance to the extent of his injury and the associated recovery time has to be taken. Ben is really level-headed and, calm – a great professional who works diligently. As such BH will know he cannot simply come straight back in and hit his previous high level but conversely that professional character will also ensure that Ben will get up to speed really quickly.
Ben can now be added to the mix, capable of playing in a one or two (striker positions). “The great thing now is we’ve got options on that front line, whether it’s an attacker that comes to link, or whether it’s an attacker that tries to stretch, whether…..holding it up…..pace”.
The competition for places is the best MS has seen since he came to the club.
“It’s a really good competitive squad. It’s just gelling them together as we go now. It feels like we’re doing that now, which is good”.
“The good thing is now we’ve just got options and have good quality options all over the pitch, which is a good time, an exciting time”.
Burton Albion: It’s too early to commit on the extent of the Teddy Bishop injury. He does have a back injury and is doing some training albeit partial. Reeco Hackett-Fairchild is fine. He only came off against Derby with understandable fatigue, having put in a great out-of-possession shift after his long injury lay-off.
MS doesn’t know new Burton manager Martin Paterson personally but it is evident he has got them ‘going’, putting in recent performances and results which reflect that. Burton are very lively and energetic, it will be a tough game on a tight, difficult pitch against a side the Imps have had poor results in their last four head-to-heads. Even so, it is a game where MS will be looking to nullify the Burton strengths and cause them some damage.
Burton will provide a different challenge to that posed by recent opponents, but an equally valid test. League One consistently sees lower-placed teams defeating higher-placed teams and it is imperative that the Imps are professional and put in high performance levels.
Getting the run of Saturday/Tuesday games, the Christmas period and injuries out of the way, adding Chris Cohen to the coaching team, are all proving to be a great benefit in the aim of meeting the challenge of facing those different types of team each week; notably the extra day for training in preparation.
Although the gap to the bottom of the table has recently shrunk, MS is unperturbed. He is looking upwards and forwards confident in the knowledge that if the team play well they will pick up points.
“We can perform and we can create chances. Now it’s just about turning those draws into wins really”.