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Pre-Exeter | Paul Hurst

11 March 2024


Pre-Exeter | Paul Hurst

11 March 2024

Boss Paul Hurst covered a wide range of topics during his pre-Exeter press conference.

Town welcome Gary Caldwell's side to the Croud Meadow tomorrow looking to build on our important victory at Port Vale.

Salop have made huge strides forward since Hurst and his assistant Chris Doig returned to the club.

But they go into tomorrow's game eager to win their first match at home - with their three victories so far having come away from the Croud Meadow.

Speaking to the assembled media, Paul discussed the Exeter game and his eagerness to give the home crowd something to cheer.

And the boss also commented on speculation linking us with a move for midfielder Jack Price - with the former Wolves and Colorado Rapids man having been training with the squad.

On how everyone is after Port Vale: 

“We have got one player that is feeling a little bit of something – we will need to check on that. 

“We are certainly hopeful, as we speak, but we will need to check on that prior to kick-off. 

“Other than that, all good and the players are in relatively good spirits – as you would imagine. 

“But they are also focused on what’s ahead and the challenge in regard to how it went when we last went Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday. 

“I don’t want to be negative but that helps focus people’s minds. 

“I’m not sure we needed bringing back down to earth but there is still a lot of hard work ahead.” 

On our away form having been stronger than our home form since he returned: 

“I’m looking forward to it (having two home games in a row).  

“Strangely, that’s how it’s gone since I have returned (the team getting more points on the road). 

“I’m still waiting for that first victory at home. I’m keen to get that.  

“I’m keen to reward the home fans for their support because the ones that have travelled with us have had some good times already. 

“We want more of that. We’ve now got two opportunities – starting with the Exeter game.” 

On the challenge on Exeter: 

“From what I have watched, I’ve genuinely been very impressed. I’m surprised they are not a little bit further up the league. 

“Maybe I’ve missed some periods where they found results harder to come by. 

“I know they had a really good start. I think they then had a bad period from memory. 

“I remember looking back when I was out of work and reading articles as you do. 

“But they have done better more recently again. 

“I watched the game at the weekend, I thought they gave Bolton a really good game.  

“They were 2-1 up and had a couple of opportunities to go 3-1 up. 

“In the end, a draw is not a result to be ashamed of. 

“They are a good footballing side, technically they are very good. 

“And I think that’s where we have got to be on our guard. We have to understand their style. 

“They do some things a little bit different in possession of the ball. We have to make people aware of that. 

“But we also have to be switched on on the night for whatever they throw at us.” 

On the impressive set-piece that led to Dan Udoh's goal at Port Vale: 

“It's something that has always interested me and something I’ve tried to put some work into. 

“When you see a set-play – or something in open play – when you identify that and exploit that, it’s really nice for staff to get that. 

“You are still reliant on players remembering first and foremost. And then executing. 

“I have to say the ball in from Mal (Benning) was excellent. And the finish was better than I realised on the day because it was some way away from me and I was looking through bodies. 

“I wasn’t actually sure it had gone in but thankfully it did. 

“It was really pleasing. Since we arrived, we have looked a threat from set-plays. 

“Hopefully we can continue to carry that.  

“People are sometimes quick to say you don’t score much from open play. Fine, I’ve got no issue with that. 

“But whether people like it or not, set-plays are part of the game. And a lot of games are decided on them.” 

On Dan having scored three goals in seven games under Paul: 

“I think Dan is a big player for us, I’ve been very impressed since I’ve joined. 

“On Friday, I had a bit of a chat with him. He is one of the most smiley, happy, people that I’ve ever met. 

“But just for his outlook and the way that he is, I felt he had just slightly come away from it. 

“Probably anyone coming off the street would think he is really happy and joyful. 

“But it just felt like he had come away from that slightly. We had a little chat as we were coming off at the end of the training. 

“And I said to him I always judge centre-forwards on more than just scoring goals.  

“Some people find that strange. They are only interested in strikers who score 20 goals a season. 

“It’s what he does for the team overall. 

“We had a bit of a chat. Hopefully, it reassured him in terms of my thoughts on him. 

“But then on Saturday, in the dressing room, I genuinely said I’ve got a feeling you’re going to score today. 

“I wish I was as good with the lottery numbers! 

“I think for Dan it’s just pleasing because he wants to score goals. But he certainly offers the team a lot more than just goals and he’s done that.” 

On leaving Ryan Bowman out of the squad for Port Vale: 

“They are always tough decisions. 

“It’s not the nice part of the job leaving people out but ultimately you have to make a decision. 

“Until we get to a point where you sign a squad and they can all be involved on a match day – we might get to that the way football seems to be going. 

“But ultimately, my job is to make decisions and hope they are the right ones. 

“At the weekend we didn’t need to make that switch. Dan got through the match and I felt we didn’t need to change that. 

“All I would say is the lads are judged fairly. And I make the decisions that I think are right for each individual game.” 

On the addition of Rayhaan Tulloch: 

“He has shown a good attitude. To be honest, that is all he can do and that is what he has been judged on. 

“I don’t think there has ever really been a question in terms of his ability and talent.  

“But ultimately, when he comes in here he has to try and impress. 

“He does that first and foremost through attitude rather than anything else. He has done that so he has signed until the end of the season. 

“It’s an opportunity for him to try and get minutes on the pitch and when he does get those to try and impress. 

“It’s not an easy role. But it’s better than him being sat at home watching Sky Sports News every day. 

“Let’s hope he can get on that show but from the point of view of scoring a good goal.” 

On speculation linking us with Jack Price: 

“The first thing I would say is going back to when I was here the first time, it was a constant thread. 

“It seems like it’s still going. 

“I don’t think it’s any secret Jack has been here getting treatment to get back fit. 

“I have no issues with that. He seems a really good guy. There is no problem on that side. 

“At the end of last week and the start of this, he has actually been on the grass and done some training with us. 

“It’s too early to say if anything will happen with that. 

“Ultimately, he has still got to prove a little bit more in terms of fitness. 

“He will get fitter and stronger. But he has been out a long time. 

“He trained one day last week and was pretty sore the next. 

“He looks like he enjoys playing football, as I would hope most people do. But it looked like he had missed it. 

“He probably put a lot into the session and perhaps felt that the next day. Which is understandable. 

“Maybe it’s just a little reminder to himself that he has been out for quite some time.” 

On if we are going to sign him: 

“I think that might be a conversation further down the line. 

“Again if we get to that point, Micky (director of football Micky Moore) and the chairman will look to see what we can do.” 

On Paul having won 50 of his 106 games in charge of Town: 

“It’s a nice stat but I want a lot more wins and I want to experience winning at home again as we have just discussed. 

“If we can replicate anything like that in the next set of games then we would all be pretty happy with that.” 

On how much he is enjoying being back at the club: 

“I’m loving it. I’ve stayed down a couple of weekends and been in the local area. 

“You forget just how small it is. You walk about and people recognise you very quickly. 

“Thankfully, that has been a pleasant experience. 

“When I first came back, I’m not saying it was split because I felt the majority of people were happy - but it’s all been positive. 

“I can only thank people for that. And all I can do in return is certainly give my all. 

“That’s what we ask the players, of course, to try and make the fans proud and hopefully have that connection with them. 

“I know it’s a big part of people’s lives and it can often influence people’s moods. 

“Saturday’s result, for instance, we spoke about the importance of it. 

“But also against a club that is deemed a rival. We have got the bragging rights for this season certainly.” 

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