U’s head coach Mark Bonner sat down with local media on Thursday morning prior to his sides clash with Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday (12th March)…
On the Abbey Stadium deal:
“It's amazing news and huge credit goes to Paul Barry, Mark Green and Adam Webb for making it happen as well as Ian Mather for overseeing the project, and of course to Grosvenor who have been real friends at the club for a long period of time.
“I think if you're a young fan or weren't here 20 years ago, you won’t understand the magnitude of having the Abbey back. Nothing gives you more of a platform to build on than having your own home.
“The growth has been amazing for us and I know people who are much more qualified to talk than me when it comes to the real detail around everything, but just from the outside, I guess I speak as a little bit of a supporter of the club when I say how important it is [to have the Abbey back].
“We've had so many highlights on the pitch throughout the last 18 months/two years, but this is a more significant moment than any of them. It just gives us a little bit control over what happens next.
“I think, in a really nice way, it’s a very uncommon scenario in 2022 for an announcement to be a real surprise to people, so it's obviously been brilliantly worked on in the background.”
On the U’s development as a club:
“When you look at the progress of the club over time, I think you can point to the significance of this week. It's a great standpoint of where we have come from and where we've got the potential to go to.
“We’ve just purchased the Abbey stadium, as well as making real progress on improving and developing the training ground to really be able to cement our position in this division as well as for us to keep moving forward and keep developing players.
“Then on Saturday we go to Hillsborough to play Sheffield Wednesday in a league game. I think we can't look too much further than that in terms of the progress that has been made in short period of time.
“Now we know there's plenty of room to keep growing, but when you look at going to Hillsborough this weekend for a league game, I think that's pretty significant.
On Sheffield Wednesday:
“We had a brilliant game with them earlier in the season and were very competitive. They’re in terrific form and playing really well, but it's very easy to forget that at the beginning of the season when the fixture list drops, you look for the games like these ones and you look at them and go, “These are the fixtures that we got promoted for!”, the ones that are pushing for and obviously you look at Ipswich, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan, they're all to come.
“These are the games you want to play in, these experiences in the atmospheres are the ones that you want to test yourselves in.
“They’ve got Incredible depth, as well as some real quality in their team. We know how hard it will be as well as the level they can get to, they can be ruthless. Despite all that, we've got that experience that we know we can come out on top like we have in some big games this year.
“Sheff Wednesday are in terrific form, despite the bad result last weekend, but they’ll want to respond from that. They’ve got some top players coming back from injury. They've got a real deep squad and an excellent manager.”
“James [Brophy] is good to go this weekend.”
“Liam O’Neil is back in training so yeah everybody's available apart from the players out long-term, and for the first time in months we've probably got more than the match day squad of 18 available, so it’s a nice situation to have which sets up nicely for the end of the season.
“Kai [McKenzie-Lyle] is with Martin at the moment on the grass but is yet to join up with group training sessions. We’re getting closer to full training sessions but not quite ready yet.”