New Boys Catching McCarthy's Eye
Tuesday, 13th Sep 2016 06:00
Town boss Mick McCarthy says he’s been pleased with what he’s seen of new boys Tom Lawrence and Leon Best in training. However, he says they need to win their places in the team and striker Best can’t be rushed as he is short of match fitness.
“They’ve done very well,” McCarthy said. “Besty needs some work. He’s shown his quality, no doubt about that, even in training in this morning, he sticks it, he’s got a goal in him, he’s big and he’s powerful, but he’s not had a full pre-season with a team.
“But we were turning it around from losing Murph two days before deadline day and I think we’ve got a good player, to be honest.
“We’ve got to be careful, we can’t give him the old ‘microwave fitness regime’ and expect him to get fit in a week, fully match fit because that’s when you get injuries.
“Brett’s stepped up and I think he’s been excellent and we’ve got Freddie, Reg and Tom Lawrence, who can play there as a number 10. We’ve got options.”
He added: “We know what Leon’s got, he’s had a good career, he’s big and he’s quick enough, he’s powerful, good in the air, he sticks it, he can bring others into play, he’s got a goal in him.
“He’s been a really good centre forward and he’s still only 29, he’s 30 this month. I think somebody like that if he wants to come here he could have the best years of his career if he wanted now.
“He could have three really good years taking him to 33 or 34 because if he does it and he scores his goals and plays as well as he can we’ll all be delighted to have him.
“He’s had a few injuries over the last period which is always difficult. I think he played 16 on the bounce at Rotherham last year and he’d been suffering with a hernia he’d had repaired and it wasn’t fully right.
“Now he’s OK, he’s fully fit, but he’s not really had a proper pre-season so we don’t want to be giving him a month’s training in a week because he’ll get injured, so we’ll get him doing his bits and he’ll be good. What I’ve seen of him in training, I’ve been really pleased with him.”
Having left Newcastle for Blackburn for £3 million in July 2012 Best hasn't been settled at any club for very long having spent time on loan at among others tonight’s opponents Derby, before joining Rotherham on a short-term deal last season.
McCarthy believes the former Republic of Ireland international has an opportunity to turn things around at Town.
“There’s lots to work with,” he added. “There is that thing as well, ‘ever decreasing circles’ in a career where you’ve been up at the top and, for whatever reason, it just keeps spiralling downwards.
“There’s got to be an end point to that. If you’ve got quality and if you’ve got belief and you’re prepared to work hard, I think this is a really good place for him because TC will work with him in front of goal, as he does with all of them and I think he’s improved every single one of them.”
McCarthy says 22-year-old Wales international Lawrence, who is on a season-long loan from Leicester, has impressed him in his few sessions at Playford Road up to now.
“He has, as much as you can in training,” he said. “In terms of his quality, you can see that straight away, his touch and his movement.
“And he’s prepared to work hard, there’s no doubt about that, he wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t.
“He’s not been here for a month, but I’ve been really impressed with him [in the time he’s been here].
“I spoke to him today because when you take players on loan they expect to come in and want to play but you’ve got to get in the team and we’ve been playing well.
“It was a good performance the other night, so you’ve got to get in the team and make sure you stay in the team.”
Having added Best, Lawrence and the currently injured Jonny Williams to his squad towards the end of the transfer window, does McCarthy have his best XI in mind?
“If I did I wouldn’t tell you because that alienates all the others from me!” he laughed. “I get that, supporters will all have their best XI, they’ll have their favourite XI players and yet I’m sure that changes from week to week.
“When things are going well it’s great for one player, then suddenly it starts going wrong and it’s not so great for him maybe like Freddie, who is currently not scoring goals.
“Of course, I know who the best players are. But it’s ‘at the moment’, it’s not a best XI [full stop], it’s at the moment in time.
“Didzy didn’t score for 11 games but I was never, ever going to leave him out because he was different class, him and Murph were ripping it up and Murph was scoring goals.
“So that was a good partnership. And it is all about partnerships a lot of the time and if it’s being effective there might be somebody out of the team who is thinking he’s better but if the team’s playing well and is winning and it’s effective, that’s the best XI.”
Regarding Freddie Sears, who has now gone 33 games without a goal, McCarthy added: “He has been really good. He’s got to get a goal at some stage, but#ruf they’ve all got to chip in.
“I was thinking coming off the training ground today, it’s a got to be a collective thing, they’ve all got to chip in.
“Chambo chipped in last year, Tommy Smith, Bez [Christophe Berra]. It’s got to be across the board. Yes, he needs a goal but again the other night he was very, very good.”
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