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Pre Colchester | Matt Taylor

2 November 2023


Pre Colchester | Matt Taylor

2 November 2023

Head coach Matt Taylor chatted to the press ahead of our FA Cup first round clash with Colchester.

Town welcome The U’s to the Croud Meadow on Saturday – with the League Two side currently under the guidance of caretaker boss Matthew Etherington. 

Speaking to the assembled media – Matt revealed Huddersfield loanee Kieran Phillips is set to miss the next three months with a knee injury. 

But there was some good news on the injury front with Jordan Shipley and Elliot Thorpe closing in on a return. 

The boss also talked about his favourite FA Cup memories and gave an insight into what the players are working on to ensure we become more ruthless in front of goal. 

On the past week:

"It's been good. The weather has caught us out today and we have had to train at the stadium which obviously isn't ideal in terms of that surface (3G pitch) for the players.

"But the week has been nice because we've had a full week with the players so from that perspective it's been really good.

"We've got some good work in ahead of what will be a difficult game at home on Saturday.

"It's also given us a chance to reset which I think is important, especially coming off the two results we had last week.

"So the players are ready. As the group is at the moment, we can name nine subs. I'm not sure we'll get to that. We've still got injuries which is disappointing.

"Kieran Phillips unfortunately is going to be out for three months which is obviously as real blow for us.

"He's had an exploratory procedure into his knee and speaking to him yesterday, he's sat at home in bed on a machine that's working on his knee so it's not the news we wanted.

"It leaves us slightly bare at the top of the pitch which is nothing new for us.

"However, we know the one thing that we haven't done well enough this year is score goals so it's going to be difficult.

"We also have an international break coming up in which by all accounts we're going to lose Max Mata, so it's not great.

"But I think the caveat and the flip side of it is that Jordan Shipley will be back in the squad and Elliot Thorpe will be back in the squad so albeit we lose Kieran, what we do is we gain two players one of whom the fans haven't seen in Elliot. When he does get his opportunity it'll be important for him to show them what he can do.

"Jordan Shipley, everyone knows what he can do and we're really happy to have him back in and around the group."

On Kieran's injury:

"He's currently back at Huddersfield, back at his house when I spoke to him yesterday. It's not ideal for us. He had an exploratory procedure into his knee which we didn't see coming.

"It has been done, so it's put us back a bit because Kieran was just getting to a point where he was getting a run in the team.

"Look, these things happen. We have to accept in football there will always be injuries.

"The thing that I think is difficult for us is that the injuries we've had haven't been avoidable. What I mean by that is it's not through load, it's been through contact.

"Ryan Finnigan won't be back with us until January. Ryan was a player that I feel will affect our team, he's a player in the middle of the pitch who was just starting to get to grips with what we wanted.

"We lost George Nurse for the season, unfortunately, it's too soon for Morgan Feeney to come back into the squad.

"I've always said the players that are fit, I'm comfortable with them as a group.

"Are we thinking of maybe changing one or two things in the way that we play? Yes. What they are I won't give away just yet.

"So we're in a position where we have too many injuries than we would want. The Kieran one is a difficult one because I feel he could've been a real asset at the top of the pitch."

On Tom Bloxham and Aiden O'Brien:

"Both of them, as far as I'm aware, won't be able to come back into the building until January.

"We had a recruitment meeting on Monday and it's a conversation we had as a group of staff so we'll monitor that but I think the most important thing for me is focussing on the players who are in the building and those that are fit and available.

"Looking at them this week they're ready and raring to go and really excited for the first round of what in my opinion is the best cup competition in the world."

On his best memories from the FA Cup:

"It wasn't getting beaten 5-0 at Wembley in the semi-final, I can be honest there. That was a difficult day for me, getting beaten 5-0 by Stoke City while playing for Bolton.

"I think my best memory actually comes from the FA Youth Cup. It was my first game as a 16-year-old away at Molineux for Luton Town many moons ago.

"But the FA Cup is special. The history that it has, the fact that you will always get, throughout any year, you'll get some upsets.

"And look, we know that being at home probably gives us a slight advantage so we want to make sure we're in the best position we can be to be in the hat for the next round.

"It's a fantastic cup, I remember watching it as a child, I remember being a big Tottenham and watching Spurs in the FA Cup final so look, it's a competition that's close to my heart, it's a competition I want to do well in, but we're also really respectful of Colchester and they've had an upturn in results recently so we know it's going to be a difficult game.

"Matt (Etherinton) has got his team playing well, it'll be good to see him, but at the same time, I feel the onus has to be on us to take the game to Colchester. I feel we have to be the best version of ourselves that we can be on that day."

On the game being a chance to earn some prize money: 

“When you look at the recent history – the game the club had against Liverpool and the replay at Anfield.  

“Is it an opportunity to take your focus off of the league ever so slightly? It is because it’s a different competition. 

“But the one thing I do know is three days after that we are back at home again against Bolton. 

“We know that at home we are a good team. If you look at our recent performances and results that would suggest that. 

“We have got to continue doing that. We have got to continue believing in what we are doing. And if we do that I have no doubt we have a great chance of getting into the next round.” 

On scoring more goals: 

I’ve spoken about this before and I know there isn’t a magic wand. 

“A lot of it comes down to confidence. How do you build confidence? You try and place players under stress during training, you try to recreate those moments you get in games. 

“We have done that. We have done a lot of front-of-the-pitch work to put the players in positions where they are going to be on Saturdays and on Tuesdays. 

“Then ultimately it is down to the players and the decisions they make.  

“Can we make better decisions in front of goal? Yes. Can we be more ruthless? Yes. 

“But it is always a process. The one thing I would allude to is that now we have lost Kieran, it leaves us light in the attacking areas. 

“But one thing I will say is the three strikers we have are all desperate to succeed for the football club.” 

On creating pressure situations in training: 

“When I talk about replicating situations, the one thing you can't replicate is real pressure and having fans and having that expectation. It's very difficult to do that. 

“I remember speaking to a police force about itHow do you train decision-making under pressure because ultimately that is what it is. That is what we are after. 

I think it’s very, very, difficult. But we do the best we can. And ultimately – with the players who have the opportunities – it's about putting them in situations in a training environment so that they feel comfortable. 

“Why do people practice penalties? Why do people practice free-kicksIt’s to hone the technique. 

“What we have been doing is putting our players in areas where we feel their technique can be better. 

“We did it today, we did it Tuesday and we will do it again tomorrow. 

It’s continually adding layers to give the players the best chance – so when they get those chances they can perform.” 

On Brandon Fleming’s injury: 

“He is closer. Is he close enough I don’t know as of yet. We are not too sure. We have got a meeting after press to have a real conversation about that. 

“But we have got Mal Benning who can play in that position. Jordan Shipley is nearing full fitness – whether he is ready for Saturday yet we don’t know. 

“But Mal and Jordan give us good options if Brandon isn’t available. 

can’t give you a definitive answer at the moment whether he (Brandon) is available because the weather has caught us out today – it's been a slightly longer and disjointed day than we would normally have on a Thursday. 

“We thought the pitch (at the training ground) would be playable but it wasn’t.” imageqtznc.png

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