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Interviews

Pre Oxford United | Steve Cotterill

8 November 2022

Manager Steve Cotterill met with the media ahead of our League One clash with Oxford.

Karl Robinson's side head to Montgomery Waters Meadow tomorrow for a fixture that was rearranged following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September.

Speaking ahead of the game, the boss gave an injury update on Carl Winchester who was forced to come off with a knee problem during the FA Cup win over York.

And the gaffer also praised the character and mentality of his players who have been incredibly adaptable this season due to Daniel Udoh, George Nurse, Julien Dacosta and Aiden O'Brien being unlucky with injuries.

ON OXFORD: 

"They are a good side. I wouldn’t worry too much about where they are in the league at the moment. 

"Everyone says we have had a good start, we have had a good start, but if they beat us they go above us. 

"They are a good team. I like Karl and have known him for a long time. I think he has done a really good job with Oxford. 

"He has been there four-and-a-half/five years now and I think he’s done a really good job. They’ve got some really good players. 

"They will get our respect. We haven’t managed to get one over them since I have been here. I think the gap has narrowed but we don’t know what this season will bring. 

"We got a little bit closer last year but got done with a late penalty. Let’s see if we have improved again."

ON CARL WINCHESTER'S AVAILABILITY:

"It will be last minute, we will just have to wait and see with that one where he is - whether he is ready or not."

ON THE SQUAD DEALING WITH INJURY SET-BACKS:

"These players do their bit for each other and I think, whoever plays, wherever they play, they do give themselves up for the team. And that’s what it’s all about. 

"Whether we win, lose or draw – whatever it is, it isn’t very often that the lads aren’t all in. 

"I think they have been all-in from day one and they deserve a lot of credit for that. 

"Sometimes tiredness can get you. But we have got some good players and we have got some robust players and they get through games.  

"That is what we have hoped for when recruiting players. We have players with a mental toughness. 

"But you also have to be lucky (when it comes to injuries). We’ve had a couple of scenarios this year where we haven’t been lucky. 

"Dan Udoh hasn’t been lucky. George Nurse hasn’t been lucky. Julien Dacosta hasn’t been lucky. Aiden O’Brien hasn’t been lucky. 

"I’m listing the unlucky ones but there have been a few who have been on the end of some challenges this season and we could have easily missed them for a period of time.  

"It happens unfortunately in football. It’s really, really, important you are strong and robust. 

"I think we have got that but you can’t have it all the time. Look at Dan and George, they played 50 odd games last year. But then they have a couple of freak injuries. You have got to hope you get a little bit lucky."

ON MAKING SURE PLAYERS DON'T GET INJURED IN TRAINING:
"It is difficult but you can’t not train and you can’t not train as you want the boys to play. 

"I wouldn’t say we adapt, but I think there are moments.

"When you are playing smaller-sided games for example – you have to be mindful that you can still press very aggressively but without actually following through with a tackle. 

"I think there has probably been a bit of adapting like that because what we don’t want is a training ground injury – but that can happen as well.

"You can only roll the dice and hope nothing happens in those moments."

ON BEING A TEAM CAPABLE OF CHANGING STYLES:

"You have to, there are different challenges in this league that you will come up against and that is why you have to put a team together than can adapt to those challenges. 

"I think you are going to need some people who are more combative, better in the air than they might be with their feet. 

"And you are going to have some people in certain areas that are better with their feet than they are with their head. 

"One thing for sure is that you have to make sure you defend your box in this division, if you don’t you will get exploited."

ON PLAYING ON A WEDNESDAY:

"We have had another day’s training in preparation for Oxford. But the week then gets worse as it goes on – it's not ideal. 

"We would rather have played on Tuesday, than a Wednesday. But there is nothing we can do about that. We just have to adjust our week accordingly.

"But it would have been better to have played on a Tuesday night for sure."

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