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Bonner and Williams on Bolton

26 August 2021

Manager Mark Bonner and full back George Williams sat down with the media ahead of Saturday's clash with Bolton Wanderers at the Abbey...

Mark Bonner was first to speak to the local media.

  • On Bolton Wanderers:

"January was a big window for them, they really strengthened their squad with some excellent acquisitions from higher levels and I think that made a big difference to the team and changed their mentality – and as we know, winning breeds that confidence and they have got lots of momentum.

"They have carried on where they left off last season, like us really, and they are buoyed on by a massive fan base that was obviously missing from last season – which brings huge motivation for them but huge pressure also, there is an expectation from them to get out of this league and into the one above. They are certainly a team that we know first-hand will cause us a big challenge this weekend and one that we are going to have to get control of and try to bring our best game to the table.

"Ian Evatt has done a good job, They have got a real identity about how they play, it is obvious they want to go out and attack games, we saw that in the early games with two 3-3 draws but since then they have had a couple of good results, beating some strong sides – we will have to be the best version of ourselves with and without the ball to be competitive in the game but we know what they are, and we know what we are, we know we are able to play in different ways and we are in a good space ourselves - we want to keep the momentum up this weekend.

"They have got a lot of players that can create chances and score goals; they have had a good robustness about them, defensively, in the last couple for games so there is a good balance. What you always expect when playing against them is to play at a real high tempo; a desire and urgency to get the ball forward and dominate the game as much as they can. We know what we are up against, and it is up to us to try and stifle that and get them defending also."

  • On the international break:

"When you are playing well and have a bit of momentum you want to keep playing, but at the same time we have had a busy spell so a bit of time, and a bit more time to prepare for the Lincoln game will be nice. It is certainly new territory for us, it is not something we have had to put up with before.

"We think Jensen [Weir] might link up with England; we are just awaiting confirmation - but apart from that we are expecting everyone to be with us. It does give us an opportunity to rest and recharge after a busy spell, but it does also allow us to get some training days in because we have not had too many of those because of the fixture congestion."

  • On Injuries:

"Jubril [Okedina] should be out running this week so we will see how he responds to that, if Lincoln comes too soon, he will have to sit out of that, but we will keep an eye on him.

"Dunk is back running after the game today but was no able to train earlier in the week because of having an issue with his back. He has been seen today but with a bit of luck he will be available on Saturday. It is Nothing major.

"Lloyd Jones has a little issue that we are managing him through, we just need to get him through this weekend and then the international break will be really well timed for him.

"Kai [McKenzie-Lyle] is back training but is back into full training now and hopefully with a little more training he will be back ready to compete for that number one spot.

"We hope Jack can start soon, but he has missed the entirety of pre-season, so he has to get up to speed. He did well on Tuesday when he came on and we know there is a player there. He will start on Tuesday as that will be a good opportunity for him to get some minutes.

"Apart from that, we are good to go for Saturday."

  • On Liam O’Neil’s start to the season:

"Touch wood he is in the best physical condition he has been in and he has put together 90 minutes consecutively for the first time in a long time – he has got himself in really good shape. I think his impact on the team last season was really big and he has started this season well. We have got a lot of competition in midfield, which is good. His performances have been good so far and hopefully the performances continue to improve."

  • On the challenge of League One

"I’m sure after ten games we will learn more but there is a lot of clubs that will certainly have that expectation to be pushing for playoffs and the top end of the league. Budgets reflect that but not always and I think that, looking at the league, you can break it down and see how many tough games there are – it is great to be a part of that! We want to be a team that know when other teams have us coming up, they will know it will be a tough game.

"It is too early to evaluate the bigger picture, to spot trends with the league and us. We are probably looking at about ten games before we can really start evaluating: “Where are we?”, “What games have we found more easy or difficult?”, “What systems are working?” and “Who’s done well?”. I think, at the moment we are still adjusting, but we are pleased with where we are at - but we want to keep improving."

Summer recuit George Williams was next up to face the media.

  • On goal line clearances and settling into the side:

"I have had a few to be fair, it is just instincts really to defend the goal and in those last resorts I just go to the goal line to try to help the team. There was one at Burton that as soon as the ball hit my heel I thought: “Oh no!”, but luckily it went wide.

"I am loving it to be honest, I feel like I am playing the best football I have played in a long time, and I am really happy here, which I think is showing on the pitch – the lads have made me feel so welcomed, I am loving my football and I can’t wait to keep playing! When you are happy off the pitch and training is going well, I think it correlates to the pitch.

"I have not been here long, but it feels like I have been here for years. It is really rare and not many dressing rooms are like it.

"Obviously I was aware that the right back here had a good season, but I just wanted to come in and put my own stamp on the side. It is nice to play right back, I am a right back but I have been playing a lot in central defence and wing back so it is nice to get back to my actual positing and making it my own."

  • On Tuesday night:

"It was a really good feeling, getting a goal in front of the travelling support was even better as they supported us so well throughout the entire game. It is something we had been working on and we had tried a few things, and despite it not being a corner, we treated it like a corner, Ben Worman put in a great ball. I had one similar at Plymouth that I thought I should have scored from too, but I was absolutely buzzing with it!

"I thought we should have maybe got something from the game on Tuesday, 3-1 maybe does not reflect that but we had a lot of good chances, and we were in control before they scored but there was plenty of positives. I was over the moon to score.

"We made quite a lot of changes and we were up against a really strong side, everyone has played really well and it creates a lot of competition for places. On another night we could have easily got a result.

"Losing Greg [Taylor] was such a blow for us but there is loads of captains on the pitch and it is such a tight nit group, it was such an honour to get the armband on Tuesday."

  • On Bolton Wanderers:

"Bolton are a huge club and they have started the season really well. We need to make the Abbey somewhere where teams do not like coming and so far, we have got four points and have made it hard to visit. I spoke to a lad after the Oxford game who said it was horrible, and when someone says that as the opposition you know you have had a good game as a team.

"We maybe should have done better against Accrington but as a team we have done well and we just need to build on it now."

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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