Downes: I Feel as If I Haven't Played in Months and I Can't Wait to Get Back
Friday, 22nd Nov 2019 12:12
Flynn Downes is itching to return to first-team action against Blackpool tomorrow and with League One leaders Wycombe in town next Tuesday he sees the next few days as a huge opportunity to regain top slot in the table.
The 20-year-old midfielder has been away on international duty with the England U20 side and the visit from the fifth-placed Tangerines will bridge a gap of 18 days since the 1-0 win at Rochdale earlier this month.
Although Downes did feature in the first FA Cup first round game against Lincoln, most of Town’s senior stars have been on a lengthy break after being rested for that one, the Leasing.com defeat at Colchester and Wednesday’s triumphant return to Sincil Bank courtesy of Alan Judge’s clincher – his first goal for the club – deep into stoppage time.
Downes said: “I’ve missed it big-time. I feel as if I haven’t played in months and I can’t wait to get back.
“I’ve been away on international duty but it’s a bit different and obviously the atmosphere’s a bit different because there aren’t so many fans.
“I’m looking forward to the Blackpool game and I feel really sharp and I’m feeling good. I’ve been doing a lot of training over the last few days so it’s all good.”
Most of Town’s senior players may have been inactive but manager Paul Lambert has kept them ticking over in training and he staged a behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday to sharpen up their fitness.
“I wasn’t involved in that,” said Downes, “and to be fair this is the first I’ve heard of it. We were doing a lot of training out in Portugal anyway so I’m alright. From what I hear the boys have been training hard as well, so everybody is raring to go, as they say.”
If Town can bank all three points against Simon Grayson’s team tomorrow and follow it up with another home victory against Wycombe next Tuesday no one can stop them returning to the top of League One.
Downes added: “Obviously, we want to be at the top but Wycombe have played two games more than us. We’ve just got to take each game as it comes – get a win on Saturday and see where we go from there.
“I don’t really know why our record in games after returning from international breaks is so poor. We’re just looking forward to Saturday and hopefully we can put that record right and get a little run going.
“It’s definitely two big games. We say it every year but every game is a big game. If we can pick up three points from Blackpool and again from Wycombe it’s happy days but they are both title challengers so it definitely won’t be easy.”
With the midweek win at Lincoln ending a miserable FA Cup run of 15 games without a win that dated back almost a decade, Town are heading for League One rivals Coventry and their temporary home at St Andrew’s on Sunday week, while they are on the road again three days later to face Peterborough in the Leasing.com Trophy.
Downes fancies a run in both competitions, although the latter clearly provides the best opportunity of reaching Wembley, and he made it clear he would prefer to be involved rather than sit out either as part of Lambert’s ongoing rotation policy.
He added: “I’d love to be playing against both Coventry and Peterborough. But I want to play every game, that’s me. If the gaffer picks me I’ll be happy.
“I fancy getting a run in the cups. We just have to take each game as it comes, whether it’s league or cup it doesn’t really matter. We’ve just got to go out there and try to get the win, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
While Town have only been beaten twice in 15 league games this season, Downes was asked if he agreed the team had yet to turn in a sustained, 90-minute performance in the current campaign.
He replied: “I think every team has its ups and downs in games. Sometimes you might start a bit slowly, for whatever reason, and finish strongly.
“Overall, I think we’ve been alright to be fair. Even when we haven’t played as well as we’ve wanted to we’ve still got wins, which is all that matters at the end of the day. It’s all about picking up the three points and I think we’ve been doing well.
“There is still more to come, no doubt about it. I think when we start playing as well as we know we can, and based on what we do on the training pitch, we’ll be flying.
“You look at Alan Judge – he’s had a tough time this season but I think he’s getting back to his best now. He scored the late winner at Lincoln, which was great for him and the team, and I just wish I had been there to see it.
“Emyr Huws is fit again and Ems is unbelievable. Obviously, he’s been here for a while now and I’ve always rated him as a top player. I was just a youngster when he arrived and because of his injury problems I didn’t see that much of him.
“This season he’s worked his way back and you can see in training what a class act he is. It’s great to have him back and available.
“He’s got to be one of the very best at this level, easily. On the ball he’s comfortable and he can do everything – he can pass it, he’s strong, he tackles and he can win headers. He’s the complete midfielder.”
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