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Paul Hurst pre Oxford United

28 March 2024


Paul Hurst pre Oxford United

28 March 2024

Boss Paul Hurst met with the media ahead of our Good Friday clash against Oxford United at the Croud Meadow.

Town have not had a competitive match in two weeks due to the postponement of the Bolton fixture last weekend.

In our last league game, we gained a first home win since Paul’s arrival with a 1-0 victory over Carlisle.

During the international break, a young Salop side played a friendly against Kidderminster Harriers with first-team players Harry Burgoyne, Rayhaan Tulloch, Roland Idowu and Tunmise Sobowale also featuring.

As well as the above, Paul also gave his thoughts on Aiden O’Brien’s role in the squad and discussed his matchday rituals.

On the two-week break:

"We had some downtime to start with in all honesty.

"Then we had the game against Kidderminster to give a couple of players a run-out and to have a look at some of the younger lads as well.

"And then we've had training this week which in a perfect world would have been good, but I have to say we've had a few injuries, some illness around, and you'll probably see that tomorrow when the teams are announced.

"It's not been ideal like we would have hoped but we're getting on with it and it will be nice to get back in action.

"It was nice to have the break on the back of a win but at the same time when you've won a game it would've been nicer to get out there a bit sooner than we have."

On those injuries and illnesses:

"We've certainly had five or six.

"I don't want to give too much away obviously but people may raise their eyebrows or question one or two things.

"Hopefully that explains what the teamsheet will look like."

On the Kidderminster friendly:

"You saw the result I'm sure. 

"It wasn't a great performance if I'm honest.

"They were quite strong admittedly but we got some minutes into some of the players - that was the biggest plus.

"Rayhaan (Tulloch) scored a good goal.

"There were a couple of decent performances but overall I was disappointed with the level, they way we passed the ball etcetera.

"But I think it also highlighted a difference in quality and sometimes younger players have an idea in their heads about what levels they can play at and I think it was a bit of an eye-opener for some of them too.

On getting his first home win last time out:

"It was nice (to get the win) but I'm not one to lose sleep as long as we're picking up points.

"Thankfully we had some decent away results of course which is still nice - you want to enjoy any victory.

"But I think it was more about getting it out of the way respectfully for the press because it's always going to be that question that's asked again.

"It was nice, it does seem a long time ago now."

On not having back-to-back wins:

"Yeah, we're running out of games to do that. 

"It would be really nice and it would edge us closer to the 50-point mark.

"You never know if it's quite going to be enough but it's always a figure you look to reach to be close or even safe.

"But we know that, in Oxford, we've got a really tough challenge.

"They're in the final playoff spot and I think expectations are that's where they should be.

"They've got some very talented individuals.

"We know there's a big challenge ahead, but at the same time, as always, I want us to be competitive and to impose our game on the opposition as much as we can.

"We know we're going to have to be good tomorrow to put that record right and win back-to-back games."

On the plan for the Easter weekend:

"We're training both days (Saturday/Sunday) and then travelling to Bristol on Monday.

"Obviously that training will be light for those players that have played the game or most of the minutes in the game.

"The others will have a bit of a top-up. They won't have to run after the game because we're training.

"And also we'll very quickly look at Bristol Rovers from Friday and what line-up and tactics they employed etcetera.

"We've already done some of that work with it being a quick turnaround, but it's not the typical Easter that quite a lot of people will be enjoying.

"Hopefully not too many Easter eggs for the players either!"

On Aiden O’Brien playing on the left:

“I thought he did well.

“He’s clever, he’s comfortable on the ball.

“In tight space, he can take the ball in, he sees passes, he can combine well with people and to be honest that’s, I think, his main position.

“And that’s how I remembered him certainly when he was at Millwall which I know was a few years ago now but he’s comfortable in that position.

“But he can play right, he can play as a ten, he probably can play as a centre forward albeit I think he would be better probably suited with someone alongside him if that’s a role that I asked him to play.”

On Aiden has slotted back in at Shrewsbury:

“Really good.

“I said when I came, I don’t know if there was almost an expectation that he would just go back out on loan.

“I think how things played out, he came in, he trained well and straight away I was told that he was a popular lad within the group.

“Now, he’s not here just to be a cheerleader.

“But I think there was maybe a few kind of false narratives around, that’s the way I’ve found it.

“He’s been no trouble whatsoever, trained well, he’s got an enthusiasm to him, he looks like he still enjoys his football and he’s another senior player that I think can help the younger players as well so I’ve been pleased with him.

“I think we have had to get him fitter, despite the fact he was out playing games at Sutton.

"I still think he’s benefitted and I see a difference in him because at one stage I don’t think he would have been able to play for as long as he did against Carlisle - when we first came in (he) certainly (couldn't).

“But using his brain as well and his intelligence to get a breather when he can - you can cut your running down sometimes by being in the right position.

“You’ve heard me speak about some players [and me] maybe wanting to stop the game and move them.

“I think with Aiden, you don’t have to do that too much with him, he gets it.

“So that can also play into his advantage in terms of getting through games.”

On his feelings heading into the Oxford United game:

“How am I feeling? Probably the usual.

“You look forward to it on one hand, there’s a bit of, well, fear is too strong a word, but you’re very respectful of what you’re coming up against.

“It’s all on the day, isn’t it?

“I think you always hope that the opposition doesn’t turn up with their A-game and that your own team are at the levels that they can achieve, but who knows?

“I wish in some ways we got a crystal ball and some games we could maybe stay away from and others you’d enjoy turning up to, but I’m hoping the players are looking forward to getting back out there.

“I think the Easter weekend is an element, sort of your end of season is in sight.

“Also a lot of people are maybe off work things like that, it’s usually a good feeling around so hopefully we can get a decent crowd in and put on a good performance.”

On his matchday routine:

“Depends what early is.

“It’s usually a bit more of a lie in than some of the days, certainly when travelling’s involved, but in the past I have probably been relatively superstitious.

“But if the youth team are at home, normally we’d go and watch them - support that game.

“I’m quite relaxed, I think a lot of people have commented on how they feel I am relaxed.

“You say your messages, your prep, you name your team if they don’t know yet already and the subs.

“There’s not a lot I can do then after that.

“You know, there’s no point getting worked up about it, wait until at least the referee blows that whistle before that starts.

“So yeah, just chill out and watch a bit of football on TV probably.”

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