Boss looks ahead to “one of the toughest games of the season”
Simon Grayson told htafc.com that his players have recharged during the international break and are ready for another tough test in the shape of Wolves this Saturday.
Town's visitors come into the game on the back of five victories from six fixtures and are currently third in the npower Championship. It is the first time this season that Town has faced recently relegated Premier League opposition and Simon knows that his team will be in for a very tough examination.
“It will be a tough game,” Simon said bluntly. “They are one of the favourites for the division and have kept together the majority of the players they had in the Premier League. They’ll be a massive threat to us, but it’s one that we are looking forward to. We want to replicate the performance we produced at Birmingham.
“The game ranks as one of the toughest games of the season so far. They have got aspirations of bouncing back and achieving promotion to the Premier League. The manager is implementing his own ideas onto the team and has brought in a number of his own players. They are a well organised outfit who possess a lot of leaders; the likes of Kevin Foley, Richard Stearman, Christophe Berra and Roger Johnson have all played in the Premier League.”
Town’s players spent the international break recharging their batteries and by taking part in a testimonial over in Belfast.
“The game in Belfast was a bit of fun and the players didn’t go over the top in regards to how many minutes they played. The players had a few days rest as well and then we have had a normal routine of training this week.
He continued: “We needed the international break. We had a few players suffering niggles, so it came at a good time for us. The games come thick and fast in the Championship and it is not just about recharging physically, but also mentally."
Jermaine Beckford scored a sensational goal for Town during the testimonial and Simon has been delighted with the way the on-loan Leicester man has settled into life at Town.
“He’s got a real spring in his step at the moment. I’ve never seen him happier in a long time. He’s coming in fully committed and is enjoying what he’s doing. When you have got the pace and power that he has, it can really unsettle defenders, as he showed against Birmingham when in the first minute he outmuscled Curtis Davies.”
Oliver Norwood spent the break preparing for Northern Ireland’s World Cup Qualifier against Portugal and played 90 minutes as the Irish drew 1-1 in Porto on Tuesday night.
“When I spoke to him on Thursday morning he was disappointed that they didn’t come away with a win,” said Simon. “He will have learned a lot from that game and it is credit to Northern Ireland team for that. He was even more delighted that he managed to get Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt on his 100th appearance!”
To finish Simon gave an update on the current fitness of Joel Lynch and Oscar Gobern.
“Joel has trained over the last few days, so we’ll assess where he is on Friday. There is a chance he could be in the squad, but more realistically we are looking at Tuesday night if he doesn’t suffer a reaction to the physio treatment.
Speaking about Oscar, Simon said: “We have got to the bottom of the injury now after he had surgery. We have got plenty of competition for places in midfield and have the likes of Scott Arfield and Anton Robinson – who haven’t featured much this season – available if and when required.