Sam Ricketts thoughts ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League One trip to AFC Wimbledon
Sam Ricketts talks to the press after having a week to work with the squad and recuperation for those that needed it. Town travel to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday after having a week's break from Sky Bet League One action due to international duty.
"It's been hard work for the players. We wanted to work them hard and with no game, we wanted to semi-replicate that from a physical point of view but also trying to push our physical capabilities at the same time." Sam said.
Ollie Norburn and Ro-Shaun Williams are well on their way to returning to full fitness after coming back into training over the international break period. "It definitely helps them in terms of coming back and getting some days training and integrating with the team instead of having to throw them straight back into a game. They've come through really well and both are at different stages in their comebacks. It's been good to get them in and around the group and get some good training sessions into both of them."
A few players have picked up fresh knocks throughout the break. Naming no names, Sam said; "It's a few little niggles that we'll assess over the next few days, but a couple of them are just annoying. At one point we were nearly getting back to everyone having full fitness, but with a couple of little niggles picked up, we'll assess them over the next couple of days."
The fans have been wanting to fill the number 9 shirt and on deadline day, Town did just that, twice. Jason Cummings and Callum Lang both signed and will both be involved in Saturday's fixture away at AFC Wimbledon. Sam didn't reveal under what context they'll both be involved in as he will see nearer to the time how they are physically.
Cummings and Lang have both settled in well with the team and are both working hard. "Jason hasn't really had too much of a pre-season, so we've been stepping him up physically, he's been working really hard and we're just trying to gauge him and see where he's up to. He hasn't had games, probably from that point of view he's right at the start of pre-season. Langy has done a full pre-season but missed a couple of days with illness just as we bought him. It's just about getting him back up to speed but they're both looking good and have settled in really well." Said Sam.
AFC Wimbledon have had a tough start to the 2019/20 campaign, and they lost the important derby last week to MK Dons. AFC Wimbledon will look to put it right this week and come out strong. "The MK Dons game, if you looked at the first half, MK Dons had a couple of shots and were 2-0 up, Wimbledon had a few efforts themselves that went straight at the keeper."
"They're a team which they never know when they're beat. The second half of last season it was a very good achievement the way they did it, to stay up. They're a team which will never give up, they're high energy and work really hard." Sam reflects on Wimbledon.
Town's next few games are against AFC Wimbledon and Southend, both very interesting teams and both have struggled with the start of the season. "I look at it to hurt the teams. We have to remain solid, but we have to try and hurt them and capitalise on where we think their weaknesses are. Southend will be a different proposition with a change of manager. That normally brings an upturn of form straight away. We will be watching their game after Saturday with interest. To see what they do and what they do differently and get ready for Tuesday night."
Shot-stopper Max O'Leary has been a delight to watch throughout the beginning of this season. Sam has his say on his first-choice keeper. "He's got great hands. He comes with good recommendation with playing a number of Championship games towards the end of last season which was a big factor in wanting to bring him to the club because he's been playing and playing at a good level. You can undoubtedly see his ability and he brings a calmness to the team with his personality. He's got a really bright future if he continues to work hard."
Town take on AFC Wimbledon this Saturday afternoon and will be looking to bring three points back to Montgomery Waters Meadow.