Gill: El Mizouni and Dobra Available for Tottenham U21s Clash
Monday, 2nd Sep 2019 16:18
Town first-team coach Matt Gill has confirmed that Idris El Mizouni and Armando Dobra will be available for tomorrow’s Leasing.com Trophy game against Tottenham Hotspur at Portman Road but says the match, the club's first ever fixture in the competition, will come too soon for striker Will Keane.
El Mizouni and Dobra are both due to join up with national squads this week - Tunisia’s U23s and Albania’s U19s respectively - but they have been allowed to remain with the Blues for Tuesday’s match before flying out.
“They’re available, which is great for us,” Gill said. “Fair play to their countries, I think they recognised that this is part of their development as well - playing against a massive Premier League club, albeit an U21s team, but still an opportunity for them to be involved in the senior environment with us. Fair play to them and the lads are really pleased to be here.”
Manager Paul Lambert has already confirmed that El Mizouni will start in midfield with Emyr Huws, while Jon Nolan is also expected to be in the XI having made a sub appearance on Saturday following his calf injury. Dobra will also be in the side, probably wide on the left.
However, Gill doesn't anticipate Keane playing, the striker having played 45 minutes for ther U23s since rejoining the Blues having undergone hamstring surgery early in the summer.
“I think it’s probably too early for Will,” he said. “I think Will has trained since he’s been in and been great.
“He’s another one of those who is desperate to come in and do well having played really well for us last year when he was fit. I think he’s just going to add so much strength to the squad that’s already pretty strong.”
Bailey Clements is also likely to be at left-back, making his second senior appearance having featured at Luton in the Carabao Cup where Dobra also made his debut.
“There’ll hopefully be one or two academy products,” Gill continued. “Obviously we had four in the squad on Saturday. I think they got forgotten a little bit the boys that are regulars and are academy products.
“It’s an opportunity to have a look at maybe one or two more. Dobs and Bailey played at Luton earlier on in the season and did great, Dobs obviously scored his first goal.
“So it’s an opportunity for some of the academy players to get involved in the senior environment again.”
He says the pair reacted to their debuts at Kenilworth Road in the manner the staff hoped they would.
“They have done, they’re two great lads and like most of the lads in the academy are really hard-working boys desperate to develop and do well,” he said.
“And I think they recognise that was just a part of their development, playing in that game and not an ‘I’ve arrived’ moment.
“It’s good that they continue to try and work hard and develop until they can get to that point and become a regular.”
Asked whether one or two academy players not yet seen in the first team, such as forward Kai Brown, might be involved, Gill said that’s more likely in later games.
“I think [later] within this competition maybe, I think with tomorrow’s fixture there’s one or two of the senior boys that are coming back from injury that will play,” he added.
“The bench is unbelievably strong at the moment, so there’ll be some changes for tomorrow but I think it’s important that the lads coming back from injury get their minutes, the lads that need minutes get them and then one or two of the younger lads get an opportunity again.”
Gill says he’s excited by the talent emerging from the club's youth set-up.
“It’s been fantastic," he enthused. "From day one being at the club the standard of the academy players has been great and there seems to be a conveyor belt of players who may have an opportunity to get close to the first team, which is good.
“It’s a very strong squad at the moment but I think it’s got a rich history of producing really good young players and I’m sure that will continue.”
He says the senior staff liaise with U23s coaches Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg, as well as U18s manager Adem Atay.
“We constantly have chats and meetings about players, and with Bryan [Klug, academy head of coaching and player development].
"I’ve watched a couple of U23s games this year, I stayed behind when the lads travelled to Bolton and watched the game here against Leeds on the Friday.
“I think there’s a definite connection between the academy and the first-team environment and if I can help that in any way I’m certainly trying to.”
Gill says he sees the Leasing.com Trophy, previously the Checkatrade Trophy, as a chance for players currently on the periphery of the first team for one reason or another to make a case for their involvement more regularly.
“I’m actually looking forward to it,” he insisted. “I think it’s an opportunity for injured players to get some minutes and lads coming back from injury.
“Some of those boys will add loads of value to the squad and similar to the Premier League and category one academies, they’ve got an opportunity for their young lads to play in a senior environment, that’s why the EFL allowed the Premier League clubs to come in.
“It’s the same for us, we’ve got an opportunity for young lads to play in a proper environment at Portman Road, who wouldn’t otherwise and playing in a senior game.
“So I think you can see it form both sides of the fence. It’s good for us and it’s good for the Premier League clubs.
“I would say it’s an opportunity to maybe try one or two things regarding the way we play and the personnel, so it is definitely an opportunity coming away from the league programme. I think it’s a good game to have at this point.”
Gill believes the squad is big enough to cope with the demands of the competition on top of the challenges of a League One promotion campaign.
“Without a shadow of a doubt,” he said. “If I put my player’s hat on, if I was playing tomorrow, I’d want to give the manager a headache. I’d want to go and perform, it’s a game at Portman Road, an opportunity to go and give him a headache, get that fitness level up, show him that you’re ready to play when called upon.”
And ultimately there perhaps may be a chance to play at Wembley: “Obviously there can but that’s a long way off. I know it’s a bit of a cliché but it’s one game at a time and we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves. The league is very much the priority.
“But, yes, I’m just enjoying the momentum of winning and I think whatever the next game is you want to win it, and that’s the case tomorrow night.”
Gill was involved in the competition during his playing days and he saw the matches as just another opportunity to play.
“The Premier League academies weren’t in it at that point,” he recalled. “I just saw it as another game. I was one of those who would probably rather play a game than train, so it was a good opportunity to get another game under your belt.”
And similarly, he says the Town management have approached tomorrow’s match in the usual manner.
“We’ve prepared exactly the same as we would for a league game,” he said. “We’ve gone through the same routine as far as everything is concerned, team selection, set plays, opposition analysis.
“I went down to the Spurs U23s game when they played Manchester City a couple of weeks ago, so everything has been exactly the same as it would be for a league game.
“They’re a very good side, they play very similarly to their first team. Their coach Wayne Burnett is a good friend of mine, he helped me during my coaching development, he was part of the FA coaching team.
“He’ll have them playing really well. They beat Manchester City 3-1 in the game I went to at the new stadium.
“But it’ll be a tough game. They’re going set-up, they’re going to enjoy playing in a stadium, they’re going to see it as an opportunity to pit their wits against a senior team.
“And also they see it as a pathway to potential loans, which is important for those clubs. So, I think that they’ll be bang up for it and wanting to do as well as they can.”
He doubts the competition being for U21 teams rather than U23s won’t have an impact on Tottenham’s team.
“I’d imagine it wouldn’t affect them at all,” he said. “At my last club [Norwich, where he was U23s coach], it wouldn’t have affected us because our U23s team was more or less an U19s/U20s team. Anyone over that age, 20, 21, are normally on a different pathway to a loan at an EFL club.
“It wouldn’t change too much. The one change for them might be that they might have a few international call-ups, like us. We’ve lost Judgey [with Ireland] , Anthony Georgiou [who is away with Cyprus and is on loan from Spurs] couldn’t have played anyway and Dozzer [England U20s].
“So, they may lose a few from that but as far as them losing the bulk of their team because of the age, I don’t think that would be the case.”
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