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Pre Notts County | Matt Taylor

30 November 2023


Pre Notts County | Matt Taylor

30 November 2023

Boss Matt Taylor was quizzed by the media ahead of our FA Cup second-round clash at Notts County.

Town travel to Meadow Lane tomorrow despite having 10 players in the treatment room with injuries having really mounted up over the past few weeks.

Nevertheless, Matt's side secured victory over Port Vale last weekend before battling their way to a point at Exeter on Tuesday.

Speaking to the assembled media, the boss previewed the Notts County game and playing on a Friday night as well as our lengthy injury list.

On injuries with the number of players in the treatment room in double figures: 

“We are hopeful that Elliott Bennett will be able to push through the pain barrier. 

“That’s what we are really hopeful with.  

“Other than that, Taylor Perry has trained today but we’re not sure whether he will be available. 

“But beyond that, no – there won’t be any extra players coming back into the group which is obviously really disappointing. 

“We are only two days post the game at Exeter so we didn’t think there would be a huge amount of change. 

“I’ve said before, I don’t want to use it as an excuse. But the fact of the matter is that we are into double figures. 

“We have to find a way of playing, find a way of being the best version of us we can be – without overusing the players. 

“The group that we are working with today, the group that will be out on the pitch tomorrow will be exactly the same group as you saw on Tuesday night. 

“It’s really tough for us at the moment but the one thing I can’t question – and won’t question – is the attitude and application of the players. 

“I think what’s happened has brought everybody here at the training ground closer together. 

“It’s really disappointing that we have got so many injuries. 

“But let’s focus on the players that are fit. The performance they put in on Tuesday night was really good. They really put their bodies on the line. 

“Now we go to Notts County who are a team we played in pre-season so we have got an idea how they are going to play. 

“We have watched them and a lot of footage. So we’ve put together a game plan today that we think gives us the best opportunity - with the players we have available – to win a game of football.” 

On whether he’s seen an injury list this long before: 

“No, and I think if you don’t laugh you cry – that's where I’m at right now with it. 

“It’s just the injuries we’ve had have been so freakish. If I look at Morgan Feeney’s injury – he's got a laceration to his kidney because he took contact in the game on Saturday. 

“I’ve never heard of that before. 

“We have had really bad luck with knee injuries, ankle injuries. They have all been freak, contact, problems. 

“But that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. What we have got to do is work with the players that are fit and make them the best they can be. 

“Because, regardless of what players go out onto the pitch, I believe we have an unbelievable opportunity to get to the third round of the best cup competition in the world. 

“Our supporters, with it being a Friday, I’m sure they will travel and we will be needing them more so than ever. 

“You know that old adage about the 12th man, we are definitely going to need our supporters on Friday night. 

“It will give our players a really big lift to see our supporters there. And we have to go there and put in a performance they can be proud of and that we can all be proud of. 

“If we do that we have got a great chance of getting into the third round of the cup.” 

On Notts County: 

“It will be a different challenge from what we faced on Tuesday. 

“It will be a different proposition in terms of they don’t play in our league. 

“But we are fully respectful. We know they have got some excellent players. 

“They are near the top of League Two for a reason, they have got some excellent footballers and a really good manager. I like the way he likes to play. He is really fluid. 

“I think in terms of the football club and in terms of us going there, I think they will feel confident. 

“But in saying that I do also because I work with our players every day and I see the effort, the determination and the quality they have. 

“We have put together a game plan that we have delivered today. As always, it will be over to them to go and deliver. 

“But the one thing we always start with in a game of football is a zero. 

“We finished with a clean sheet on Tuesday. That will be the challenge again because we’ve got goals in the team make no mistake about that. 

“We just now to be more consistent away from home and defending our goal because we know we will get opportunities on Friday night.  

“We know it’s going to be a difficult game. I’m sure they will have a lot of their supporters there. For the level, they are a big club. 

“But I go there full of confidence, regardless of the situation we are in with injuries.  

“We have got to be confident going into this fixture and I’m really looking forward to it.” 

On whether playing on a Friday makes it harder: 

“I could sit here now and I could make excuse after excuse about the squad being small because we’ve got so many injuries – not the overall size of the squad but the available players. 

“I could sit here and say we sat for three-and-a-half hours on a bus yesterday. 

“I can make all the excuses that are going but I won’t and I’m not going to. 

“Does it make it more difficult? Of course, it does. 

“But I keep saying to the players, everything in life that’s worth having is a struggle to get. I firmly believe that. 

“And I also firmly believe that we are going through a period at the moment where we are suffering. 

“We are suffering with injuries but I look at it and think – when we come out the other side –it's going to feel so much sweeter because of the hard work we have put in. 

“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. I’m going to say the players, each and every one of them, will be ready for the game on Friday night. 

“It’s the FA Cup. If they feel tired, I can guarantee when they see the lights and that whistle goes on Friday night – all that go away. 

“My job is to keep driving the players every day and make sure they are the best they can be going into the second round of the FA Cup. 

“I would love nothing more than for us to progress into the third round because for a football club like us that is a wonderful achievement. 

“Recent history with the fixtures against Liverpool – I remember watching both the games on tele – that is what the FA Cup is all about. 

“But we can’t think about that. First, we have to make sure we are 100 per cent on it – both with the ball and without the ball – on Friday night. 

“If we do that we have got a good chance of getting through to the next round.” 

On what will be a young subs bench: 

“It’s really good for us as a football club because the link we have with the academy is really strong. 

“I, having worked in an academy before, understand how important it is for our young players to understand there is a clear pathway. 

“There will be a lot of young players on the substitutes bench tomorrow night. Why? Because we can have nine subs and we are going to utilise that. 

“One of them, two of them, there of them might get an opportunity so my message to them is to make sure they are ready. 

“They have worked extremely hard to get to this point and be in and around the group. 

“The challenge for them now is to stay around the group. 

“And if they get an opportunity on Friday, if they get an opportunity in the next league game against Wycombe – then they have got to take it. 

“I remember being 16 and 17 and the hunger, desire and passion you have for the game. 

“I’ve got every confidence in our young players. 

“I’ve just been sat in my office having a discussion around the permutations around the ‘what ifs’. 

“I did just say though the ‘what if’ we won’t have planned for because the ‘what ifs’ are so crazy for us at the moment. 

“But I’m extremely excited for tomorrow night. It’s a great opportunity for us as a football club. 

“I know the supporters will come and follow their team. It will be cold. Wrap up warm. And come and support the players if you get the opportunity to do so.”

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