Boss Mark Bonner faced the media this morning ahead of The U's clash with Fleetwood Town on Saturday...
The U's go into their clash with the Cod Army having beaten both Portsmouth and Tottenham Under 21's in League One and the Papa John's Trophy respectively in their last two outings.
On United winning five of their last seven games:
“You count them in your run when you win them, and you don’t count them when you don’t! I think the last couple of games have been different from each other across those two competitions, but we have come out of it with good results and go into a week now with three challenging league games.
“It’s interesting to see is how we cope with the international breaks, given we have not had to deal with that prior to this season. There is potential that if Morecambe have the call-ups, we could then have two weeks without a game again, so it will consistently disrupt our rhythm a little bit.
"The last couple of weeks have given us a couple of really challenging games which we have come out of well." - Mark Bonner
“It just means that when we get to these game heavy periods, we try and get as much from them as we can, but certainly the last couple of weeks have given us a couple of really challenging games which we have come out of well. We are looking forward to this next seven days where we have got three games against teams that are fairly well established at this level.”
“They have a definite goal threat, to score four at Rotherham and then two against Sunderland, you know you are up against a team that have got real firepower. They [Fleetwood] have recruited well, Callum Morton is a real threat for them at the top of the pitch. The two Garner boys have done very well for them, certainly Joe Garner, signing at the back end of the window, an experienced player that is going to play a big part in their season.
“They tend to play more with a front two then some might in the division, so it will be a good challenge, an interesting one for us, but certainly a team that when you look at the games they have played – after not winning in their first three, against quite a lot of the top sides, or certainly the teams you perceive to be at the top end of the table. More recently, results have been excellent so for them to have three wins from the games they have had, similarly to us really – I think it has got the making of being a really good game.
"Simon has had a super career in terms of promotion and successful times at different clubs." - Mark Bonner
“You know is when you come up against coaches like Simon [Grayson], they are very experienced at riding through difficult periods and experienced at keeping momentum within teams, you can obviously add a wealth of experience in game knowledge, in terms of changing shape and changing their structure, and they are team and have shown that quite a lot this season.
“We will need a bit of flexibility in our approach, tactically, and will need the ability to really adjust as the game goes on because we know there it is something that they will do themselves.
“I am really looking forward to the next three games, as Fleetwood, Gillingham and Crewe are all good examples to us of teams that have got to this level and consolidated and built a club capable of competing at this level. They are all very different in the way in which they have done it but for us to go into it and say: “Right, this is how competitive we can be” against three clubs that are of a level we want to try to get to.”
“Wes [Hoolahan] had a scan earlier this week and this morning has been in the physio room, so we will see how the next two days go for him and whether or not he can get out and train, obviously if he does then he becomes a real good option for us, but we are unclear on that at the moment.
“There is not so many players, when he is at the top of his game that are as good as him throughout the league, so certainly you have to cover for him in different ways, you can go with a similar shape, and we do have players with similar qualities, we have plenty that can play as an attacking midfielder, both centrally or wide, or we can change the shape of the team in order to play in a slightly different way.
"We have shown ourselves over a decent period that we can be a competitive team and get results without Wes." - Mark Bonner
“I think we have shown ourselves over a decent period that we can be a competitive team and get results without Wes [Hoolahan]. So, if he is available at the weekend great, and if not, we will try to pick the right side with a balance that gives us a good structure and good defensive shape but also causes them some problems as well.
“Dimi [Mitov] did not train in the early part of the week, probably the timing of the game that we had on Tuesday was good, so he had a couple of down days, but he will be back in training today.
“I think we have to be a bit mindful for some of the boys that played on Tuesday whose first game it was for a while because the ball was in play 72 minutes which has not happened this season, so physically, it adds quite a lot of work to the players.”
On Joe Ironside:
“Joe’s [Ironside] role has not changed too much in the team, he is the type of striker that carries a threat whether he plays on his own or with somebody, he carries that physicality and is that direct target for us we need sometimes in the game.
"We always believed he would be a goal scoring striker for us." - Mark Bonner
“I am not surprised that he has adjusted well after going up a league. I know people have said that they are unsure of his goalscoring qualities, however, we always believed he would be a goal scoring striker for us, and he showed that hitting double figures last season.
“I think for all of our players, we need that really committed physical approach – whether that is from a disciplined starting point, not chasing absolutely everything, but putting in physical tackles, interceptions and blocks, when we are pressing, when you have to run hard back to your own goal or before on the counterattack – when you have got to go to work, you have got to go to work!
“We need players throughout the team that going to play like that, and it has got to be the bedrock of our team.
Tickets are still tickets available for the clash online, over the phone by calling 01223 566500 (option 1) or by visiting the Abbey Stadium Ticket Office on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Matchdays.
The game will be FREE to watch for all NHS employees as a thankyou for their hard work throughout this incredibly tough last year and a half.
Proof of NHS employment, whether over the phone,where you will be asked to send over a copy of your ID to firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person at the ticket office is all is required to secure your match ticket. Tickets must be used on the day by the employee redmeeming them - proof will be requested upon entry.