Chris previews Saturday’s game against Birmingham
Town Manager Chris Powell knows he will get a reaction from his players when Birmingham City visits the John Smith’s Stadium in Sky Bet Championship action on Saturday.
Powell cut an angry figure after the final whistle of Town’s 5-0 defeat at Carrow Road last weekend, but he explained that he has faith in his players to respond in the right way against the Blues this Saturday.
“We drew a line under that game at the beginning of the week, but not before we had a look at it. Now, as far as I’m concerned, we move on quickly.
“I understand that the players and supporters will be upset about what happened, as I was; I didn’t see it coming. Games like that can happen in football, but we must now recover quickly. We’ve seen time and time again in football that teams can recover from a bad result in their next game and we must get back to doing what we do best.
“I’m looking for a reaction and a response on Saturday – and I know for a fact I’ll get it.”
In the ultra-competitive Sky Bet Championship, Town’s Manager knows how quickly the complexion of the table can improve:
“This League never changes – it’s always close. You can win a number of games and be looking ahead, but suddenly one defeat will see you drop four places!
“That doesn’t faze me. You have to keep a calm head and know things can change in your favour pretty quickly. We’ve got a good few points to win this month and we want to do that as soon as we can to keep our season ticking over.”
Unfortunately it looks like Powell will be without the services of three First Team players for Saturday’s game; Joel Lynch, Harry Bunn and Joe Murphy.
“Progress has been slow. We’re hoping they’ll be available over the Christmas period, but we’re not so sure they’ll be ready for Saturday. We’ve got a lot of games coming up and we’d prefer them to miss another game and be properly ready for the next four. It will be good when they’re back.
“Joe Murphy has started light training; he’s out of his boot now. He did some handling the other day, but I’d still envisage it will be three weeks before we see him back in full training again.”
Lynch’s absence, combined with a suspension for Murray Wallace following his red card against Norwich, will see Powell field a new central defensive partnership this weekend. When asked about his options, Chris explained he was more than happy.
“Central defence is such a key area; it’s the spine of any team. We need players who are brave with and without the ball, because central defenders often lead from the front.
“I still have a few options. It’s the nature of football that you pick up suspensions and injuries, especially around this time of year.
“I still have Mark Hudson, Anthony Gerrard, Lee Peltier and Tommy Smith who can play in the middle, as well as the option of going into the Under-21 squad; we have enough experience, talent and options in the building there. They’re all up for selection, which is good, and whichever lads go out there on Saturday, I know they will give their all.”
Members of Town’s Development Squad are also pressing for a call-up, with several players impressing in the two-goal midweek victory over Everton.
Powell continued: “I’m never afraid to put young players in. Harry Bunn has been a real success for us out of that squad and I’d have no qualms about putting any of those lads in. I watched them in midweek (against Everton) and in training, joining us on several occasions. I can put my full trust in these players, because they are coached well by Frankie Bunn.
“However I have a good, experienced squad that includes a number of players that have been waiting for their chance and this may be the time to give them their chance. I know these lads can handle the situation, because they have lots of games behind them.”
One player who is ready and available is James Vaughan; Town’s top scorer during the last two seasons.
Chris continued: “I could have given him some minutes at Norwich last weekend, but after the crazy six minutes we had I felt the players out on the pitch needed to see that through.
“Vaughany is ok though; he’s trained well and played in one Under-21 game. It’s been a tough 12 months for him, but that’s gone and we need people like him who have experience of scoring goals at this level.
“Whether he starts on Saturday or not, he is ready to get out there and make a difference for us.”
Saturday’s opponents Birmingham arrive at the John Smith’s Stadium on the back of a thumping 6-1 home victory over Reading last weekend, but Chris is concentrating on what his side can do:
“I’m sure their result last week will have raised a few eyebrows, but it was a good response after losing to Blackpool in the previous game. They’ve bene buoyed by Gary (Rowett) going in and they’ve arrested the slide they were on.
“They have some good individuals and they’re playing solidly as a team; they now recognise that’s the way for them to move forward.
“For us, it doesn’t matter who is coming here on Saturday – whether it’s Birmingham or anyone else. It’s all about us and the reaction I’m looking for. We want to create chances, like we have been doing at home, and give our fans something to shout about.
“We’ve got the basis of a really good squad here; one that is only young and can get better. Of course, they will go through spells where it doesn’t go for them and you have to come through that – that’s part of the learning process of a professional footballer.”
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