Nash: Individual Development the Main Focus But We Want to Put on a Performance and Win
Tuesday, 30th Apr 2019 11:06
Coach Gerard Nash says his U23s will be determined to win a place in the Professional Development League Two play-off final when they take on Birmingham City at Portman Road this evening, even if developing players is more important than picking up trophies at that level (KO 7pm).
Midfielder Idris El Mizouni, who started the season in the U18s and then progressed through the U23s and on into the first team, will be in the side along with skipper Corrie Ndaba, who may make his senior bow at the centre of the defence in the final first-team game of the season against Leeds on Sunday, and forward Kai Brown.
The U23s, who Nash coaches alongside his assistant Chris Hogg, won the Professional Development League Two South table by seven points, while this evening’s opponents Birmingham were second in the North division.
The winners of tonight’s match will face Leeds at Elland Road in the final on a date yet to be set prior to May 10th, the Whites, the winners of Professional Development League Two North, having beaten Coventry City, second in the South, 3-2 after extra-time in their semi-final on Monday. The venue for the final was drawn earlier in the week.
“The group have obviously done really well if you look at the league table, which is important because we want them to be playing in teams which win games every week, so that aspect of it has been good,” Nash said, speaking on BBC Radio Suffolk’s Life’s a Pitch (37mins 20secs).
“But in reality the major thing is that we’re just trying to look to improve people and improve players.
“We’ve quite a transient group, we’ve had a lot of players play in the group, which brings a lot of challenges.
“But what’s been really good about it is they’ve faced them and handled them and found a way to be successful in terms of getting better individually, first and foremost, and as a group when they’ve played together on a matchday. So, it’s been pretty good from them.”
Reflecting further on the squad’s state of flux over the season, he added: “That’s the nature of the league and the nature of the job as the U23s manager.
“I think at the last count we’ve had 49 different individuals playing, from first-team players dropping down, the occasional trialist and U18 players coming up, which has happened a lot, so it’s been a really challenging group.
“But what they’ve all done really well is bought in to what we’ve asked them to do and when the first-team players have been involved generally they’ve been exemplary, which is really important.
“They’ve been good roles models for the players in general and the young players coming up from the U18s with Kieron [Dyer] and Adem [Atay] and the schoolboy system, a lot of them have done really well as well.”
Although development is the main focus, Nash says his players will be determined to beat Birmingham this evening and win a place in the final.
“I assure you when we set foot on the pitch at seven o’clock we’ll absolutely want to win the game,” he said.
“Is it the be-all and end-all? Really it isn’t. Are we desperate to put the best performance on that we can and get as much out of the game as we can? Absolutely.
“We absolutely want to win, but it is about the individual development, which is what’s key about it.
“As I said, the likes of Kieron, Adem and the schoolboys have produced players and they’ve played up, which is what it’s all about.
“If it was about playing games to win games, maybe Idris El Mizouni wouldn’t have played his way into the first team as an U18 scholar. It really is about that individual development primarily.”
Like the first team squad, the U23s have been hit by injuries with strike pair Ben Morris (ACL) and Ben Folami (achilles) both having missed most of the second half of the season, while Jack Lankester, who featured often for the Nash and Hogg’s side in the first half of the campaign before breaking into the senior team, is out with a back problem.
Right-back Barry Cotter will be absent tonight having been red-carded in the final league game of the season against Nottingham Forest.
Ony the East of England Co-op Stand will be open this evening with tickets £3 for adults and £1 for concessions, while season ticket holders are admitted free.
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