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Pre Oxford | Matt Taylor

2 October 2023


Pre Oxford | Matt Taylor

2 October 2023

Matt Taylor previewed tomorrow night's trip to face Oxford United.

Town head to second-place Oxford off the back of a draw at home to Charlton Athletic on Saturday - a performance many people felt warranted all three points.

Speaking to the assembled media, Matt discussed our display against the Addicks and gave his thoughts on tomorrow's game at the Kassam Stadium.

And the boss also gave a fitness update on injured duo Ryan Finnigan and Elliot Thorpe.

On the draw against Charlton:

"I don't think a huge amount has changed in terms of how I feel now to (how I felt) then. 

"Obviously I talk about it a lot, remove the emotion from the performance, and I thought we were excellent. I thought first half we were really good in terms of how we got into their final third.

"I thought we picked up a lot of second balls, we were really resolute in how we defended and (I'm) disappointed even more so now having watched the game back that we didn't capitalise on one of those big moments.

"So, it's always difficult when things aren't going your way in front of goal. But what I will say is that the players are in really good spirits at the moment.

"There was a lot of disappointment around after the game in the dressing room and that's because they know how well they played and that's a real positive for me.

"We've got to take those feelings and those thoughts and positivity into a really tough game against Oxford United tomorrow night."

On Ryan Finnigan's injury:

"Unfortunately he had a freak accident on Thursday in training. He twisted his ankle quite badly. We were hopeful at the beginning that it wouldn't be anything too sinister but subsequent x-rays and he's booked in for an MRI - we think he's done some real damage.

"Best case scenario would probably be three to four months which is really disappointing because Ryan was just starting to come into his own.

"He'd played a lot of football since joining and it obviously means now we're another body down in midfield which is tough.

"I think the most difficult thing for us to deal with at the minute is the injuries we've picked up haven't been muscle injuries. What they are is they've been devastating season-long injuries or months as opposed to weeks, so it's really difficult at the moment.

"What I do know is that other players now in the team, if they didn't have a chance before they have a chance now to impress and when they get a shirt to try and keep it."

On if Elliot Thorpe will return to action in October:

"I think that's optimistic as I'm led to believe because with his injury being a stress fracture of his back, it's one we have to go by in terms of his symptoms.

"He's not back on the grass yet, he's in the gym and he's working on the bike at the moment.

"It's baby steps with him because we need to make sure with that type of injury, that there isn't undue stress put on his back.

"If you think about it, for every action you undertake as a person, we all use our back, so we've got to be really careful with that one.

"As it stands October would be great, but I haven't sat down and had a definitive conversation with Skitty and the medical staff purely and simply because we're treating it day by day."

On if there have been any new injuries:

"Everybody's fine, everybody came through the game unscathed.

"As there always is after every game of football there are sore bodies, a couple of knocks and bruises but otherwise I'd expect everybody who was available on Saturday to be available for tomorrow night."

On keeping three clean sheets in nine league games and the general defensive performances this season:

"(They have been) really good. I look at the areas in which we have strength and I believe that's out of possession.

"I believe we're really resolute, we keep very good shape and we've got players who are willing to put their bodies on the line in a structure.

"If we work on that metric and that metric alone [three clean sheets in nine league games] then we'll get 15 clean sheets this season. They're facts.

"Can we get better at it still? 100% we can. Are the players taking on board everything we're saying? Yes, they are.

"Whether there are tweaks we can make for certain games, players are still asking questions and they're still doing their jobs.

"So, really pleasing from that perspective. I think there are still areas for improvement. We can still be better, we can still demand more out of each other, the players on the pitch, but to a man, defending starts from the front.

"Our number nines have undergone a lot of education about what we expect from them out of possession so for us there isn't a free position within our team, every player has to defend. And likewise, every player has to be part of an attack as well."

On Oxford United:

"(They) score a lot of goals. Even if you look at their last two fixtures they're a team that will be high on confidence.

"Liam (Manning) has got them really playing football. They've got 18 goals this season so that tells you where they have a threat.

"They have real individual brilliance where we'll have to make sure we undertake our jobs and roles and responsibilities properly when we haven't got the ball.

"Will we get chances to score? Yes, we will. It's now up to us to make sure that we take those opportunities.

"I feel there will be times tomorrow night when we probably won't have the ball as much as we would like.

"Why? Because Oxford are very fluid, they like to keep the ball, they like to move the ball, they like to play through their pivots in midfield and they've got good attacking options.

"But one thing I do know is whatever team is selected, and the players know that today, they're ready to go to give a performance against Oxford United tomorrow night."

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