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Pre Derby | Matt Taylor

19 October 2023


Pre Derby | Matt Taylor

19 October 2023

Boss Matt Taylor chatted to the media ahead of our League One clash against Derby.

Town welcome Paul Warne's side to the Croud Meadow on Saturday looking to build on a run that has seen us take four points from our last two games.

During the week, Nohan Kenneh and Max Mata were on international duty with the duo representing Liberia and New Zealand respectively.

Speaking to the assembled media, Matt confirmed both players have returned to Town fit and available for the weekend.

The boss also discussed our improved recent performances and gave a fitness update on Elliot Thorpe and Jordan Shipley.

On preparations for Derby: 

“It’s been a good week’s training. It’s been good to have a full week with the players to digest what happened last weekend. 

“I must say I felt watching the (Cambridge) game back we were more dominant, we kept the ball better, we made better decisions in the middle of the pitch and we built from a better structure. 

“What we have tried to do this week is add layers to that whilst getting the physical work into the players that they need. 

“It’s been a really positive week. We have been on the grass for three days. I thought the weather might catch us out today but it didn’t. 

“Hopefully, we will be able to get on the training pitch tomorrow as well. But overall, it’s been a really positive week. 

“The main thing is that we carry all that good work into the weekend for what is going to be another difficult game. 

“I know I say that all the time. But I think the league this season is probably different to that of last season. 

“It’s more competitive and I feel we have got a great chance to build upon what have been two really good performances leading up to this game.” 

On taking four points from the last two games against Northampton and Cambridge: 

“What I really like about last weekend was that we looked strong physically and we were robust mentally. 

“The players continued to believe and deliver a performance that - even after going 1-0 down – we have been craving. 

“I’m pleased for them. But you have to understand it’s a stepping-stone. Now the most important thing is that we perform at that same level again against Derby. 

“And if we do that it gives us an opportunity to win a game of football. 

“You can bemoan the fact we haven’t had a huge amount of luck recently. 

“But what the players are doing now is reaping the rewards of all the hard work they have been undertaking here, at the training ground, and also in games. 

“So I’m very much looking forward to the weekend and our aim is to build on the four points we have collected from the last two games.” 

On Nohan Kenneh and Max Mata returning from international duty: 

“Nohan and Max are both back in the building. Both trained today.  

“Max took part in the full session. Nohan having travelled slightly further and having played more minutes took part in the majority of the session but sat some physical aspects of it out. It's great to have them both back.  

“But I think what you saw at the weekend is we have got a group of players - regardless of who is selected and available - each and every member of our team is ready to go to battle and go to war.” 

On being relieved Max and Nohan have returned injury-free: 

“Injuries haven’t been kind to us but what I will say is, the lads who are injured are getting closer to being fitter and closer to being in contention which is fantastic news from my perspective. 

“It’s always difficult when you are a coach or a manager because your focus will always tend to be on the players you are working with on a daily basis. 

“But what we do well here, I believe, is that we make sure we stay in constant communication with the players who aren’t in and around the group. I believe that’s very important.  

“We have had players who are injured this season travel to every away game. That tells me that we have got a good group of men and a good group of people. 

“But as you alluded to at the beginning of the question, it’s fantastic news that Max and Nohan have come back in good shape and both will be available if selected at the weekend.” 

On Jordan Shipley and Elliot Thrope closing in on returns: 

“We are due with Elliot for him to join back in with some parts of the competitive football element of the program within the next four or five days, which is great. 

“Jordan will be slightly longer. However, he is doing exceptionally well with his rehab at the moment. 

“To see them both on the grass today, they’ve had a Tuesday and a Thursday they won’t want to repeat. 

“It’s been really difficult for them physically but both have come through those tough workouts. 

“It’s just a case of making sure that we don’t push both players too soon. 

“Elliot’s injury is more symptomatic. He is looking and feeling good at the moment.  

“Jordan’s is slightly more protocol-based – where you have to tick certain boxes before he can move onto the next element of his rehabilitation. 

“I’m pleased that both of them are back out on the grass and I know, having been through that process myself as a player - to get your boots back on your feet, to get out of the gym and to be back out with the group again is a wonderful feeling. 

“It’s a wonderful feeling for them as individuals but it will also give the group a massive boost.” 

On Derby’s threats: 

“Paul (head coach Paul Warne) has done a really good job having gone in there. 

“They are a physical team, they are strong with some supremely talented footballers both in the middle of the pitch and at the top end. 

“Will it be a difficult game? Yes. I want us to make sure we implement our style. 

“I felt we played more football on Saturday against Cambridge and I want us to do that again. 

“I want us to be expressive and I want us to trust one another with the ball. 

“But the minimum we must do is – every time we go on the pitch – recreate a really hard-working, dogged, performance without the ball. 

“If we do that we know we have players in attacking areas that can hurt any team at this level. 

“I’m thoroughly looking forward to this game. It will be a different test and a different challenge for our players. 

“The reason I say that is because Derby have sold out their allocation of tickets which will make it a really good atmosphere. 

“What I would urge and what I would hope and what I know is our fans will be in full voice. 

“The job we have now is to make sure our players give our fans something to get off of their seats for, something to sing for – which I know they will do. 

“It’s going to be a tough game but it’s going to be a tough game for Derby as well so I’m extremely excited – back-to-back home wins would be wonderful.” 

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