Mark Bonner has made clear his intentions to allow an opportunity for a number of players to stake their claim for a more regular starting position, in tonight’s clash with Burton Albion.
Whilst the U’s Head Coach is aware of the EFL Trophy regulations which limit the number of changes he can make to his side from the last league fixture with Exeter City on Saturday, Bonner views tonight as an idea to catch up on game minutes.
He said: “The first game (in the EFL Trophy) against Fulham really allowed us to do whatever we wanted when it came to changes but the rules of the competition have come into play now, and we have to play a certain amount of players that qualify from the last League game. So we can’t make wholesale changes but we can still make a good number of changes.
“We have certainly got a group of players who have fallen away in terms of game minutes, particularly because we’ve made so few changes and played the same starting eleven for a number of games. So there’s a good opportunity for some of the players to feature and to compete for a place in the team this weekend.
“Harry Darling is one of those that can come into the team because he needs to play, Harvey Knibbs certainly needs to play and there are one or two others who fall into that bracket, Jack Iredale being another.
“This isn’t the busiest spell of the season, we haven’t had a midweek game for a couple of weeks and we haven’t got one next week, so there’s certainly not a concern around fatigue or game load at the minute.”
Following the 2-0 home win over Fulham U21s in the opening game of Southern Group H, a victory for the U’s against the Brewers this evening will confirm a place in the next round of the competition. And Bonner feels that should be the biggest motivation for the eleven players taking to the field at the Pirelli in black and amber, regardless of what sort of Burton side they face.
“It’s really difficult to know beforehand what sort of side you’ll face. Burton have one or two injuries, they have one or two players who went into the side Saturday for the first time, so you think maybe they won’t play again.
“A lot of coaches will probably see this sort of fixture similarly, because we’ve all got a really busy schedule coming up, and we’ll all want to go into that with as many match ready bodies as we can. So I think everyone will see it as an opportunity to get some game minutes into other players. However, Burton have still got some really experienced players who have played a lot of games at that level, and the challenge for us is to be ready for whoever we face.
“It’s a game we want to win because a victory for us means we progress in the competition and that ultimately is all we’re after.”