Drinan, Woolfenden and Lankester Set to Miss Fulham Cup Tie
Tuesday, 15th Sep 2020 10:23
Town look set to be without Aaron Drinan, Luke Woolfenden and Jack Lankester for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup second round tie against Fulham at Portman Road, while Kane Vincent-Young, Kayden Jackson and Cole Skuse remain sidelined and assistant manager Stuart Taylor says one or two others are also suffering with knocks.
Drinan was substituted at half-time during Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Wigan suffering with a thigh strain, while Woolfenden tweaked his groin and Lankester suffered a concussion in training incidents late in the week.
“We're just waiting for confirmation back on Aaron,” Taylor said at this morning’s press conference. "It does look like he's going to be struggling for the game on Wednesday, I've got to say that.
“But we'll find out and I'm sure the club will announce something as soon as we find out what it is. We’re just waiting for word back on him.
“There are a few other lads as well who picked up a few knocks from Sunday, so we just need to be careful on what the gaffer is going to do for Wednesday night.”
He added: “There are a lot of tired bodies, but we've got a lot of knocks as well. Some that we're nursing and some that we're waiting for feedback on and hoping that they're not going to be too bad.
“It's been a tough programme up until now, and we're just going to have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.”
Taylor has been delighted with the impact Drinan has made, the Irish U21 international having started all three games as the central striker having not previously made a senior start for the Blues.
“We set loads of different targets for the lads in terms of the first team, holding that first-team training place and aspiring to get into the squad for the first team, then getting off the bench and having an opportunity,” he said.
“But when you get the opportunity you've got to grab it as you go along the way, whether that be grabbing the chance to go and train with them.
“Aaron's done that this season, he's been immense in every aspect of training, games, how he goes about his work, he's applied himself really well, and he has set that example to the other lads that if you do get your chance you've got to take it and if you do take it then you'll be in, and he's done that.
“We've always said when we came in that if you get the jersey you need to keep it and Aaron's done that for sure.”
“I think it's the work ethic and the message that he sends across to the rest of the lads and it is infectious.
“You get someone going running around and busting a gut, and it is infectious, and it goes onto the other lads. You always say defend from the front, so everybody sees exactly the work rate he puts in, therefore they end up doing the same as well.
“They see him running, and they run with him and he sets off a lot of our pressing, and it lets the midfield lads behind him go and press with him. So he's been very good for us this season and hopefully it won't be a bad one for him.”
Regarding Woolfenden, he added: “He’s a day closer to being back. He certainly looks in a better position than he did on Saturday.”
He says Lankester won’t be involved having suffered a freak injury at the end of last week: “Obviously with the concussion rulings now we have careful, as we would have been anyway with him.
“Jack will come in today, we’ll assess him again, he gets reassessed every single day, as do the other injured lads.
“But as soon as the symptoms clear up he has to go four days before he can go back in about things. He was still feeling a little bit of pain from that.
“I really feel for him because when it happened last week, it was actually nothing, he just turned into Judgey’s shoulder and just the way he fell down and everything, it was bizarre. The good thing now is that he’s totally fine and on the mend.”
But once he is over the concussion, Taylor says the 20-year-old is ready and raring to go having last made a senior appearance in January 2019.
“He’s in a great position, he was absolutely flying before that head knock,” he said. "And he brings an incredible quality that we don’t have and that freshness.
“But we can’t expect too much of him because he’s a young kid who has been out of football for about a year and a half, which is a long, long time.
“He will give us that freshness when he comes back, he will give us a lot of qualities when he comes back, but we need to be careful we don’t expect too much from him.”
Vincent-Young, Jackson and Skuse are yet to play a part this season due to achilles, groin and knee problems respectively.
“They're coming along OK,” Taylor said. “Obviously, we'd like it to be quicker than what it is, but sometimes that happens. Kane is just changing his rehab programme a little bit, and hopefully, we'll see a positive in that towards the next couple of days.
“And Cole's finding a little tough, so again we'll reassess him in the next couple of days. There's not really too many changes on that side of things with the lads that are out.
“Kayden's progressing along fine, he's been on the grass a couple of days now, and hopefully, he can start getting involved with the team and training in the next day or two."
Taylor says Oli Hawkins came in with a minor problem and that they’ve taken things slowly with the former Portsmouth frontman.
“He came with a little foot problem, but it wasn’t an issue, we just managed it,” he said.
“We’ve always tried to have him involved in games. He’s been on the bench in two of the games and not come on. That was more or less a tactical one in terms of who would be the most suited type to come on in those games.
“I think it’s been the right decision on that side of things. Oli’s a fantastic character in and around the dressing room and on the training pitch.
“He’s a real handful and he’s something that we need at this football club. He’ll be a very good addition, a very good signing. It won’t be long before he’s back on the pitch again.”
Would Wednesday be too soon for him to make his first Town start? “I think time will tell on that one. Obviously the gaffer’s sitting down now waiting for most of the lads to come in and assessing where they all are. It’s an extra day since Sunday, so we can get a good indication as to who’s at their fittest and who’s ready to go.”
Taylor says he and manager Paul Lambert are liaising closely with the club’s sport science staff with games coming thick and fast and this season’s policy of trying to keep a settled side.
“I was really determined to come into this interview and not mention the five and a half months we’ve been off, but it is something that not just us but every club is having to take into consideration,” he added.
“We’ll look at the data, we’ll look at how lads are feeling, we’ll speak to the lads and we’ll get honest feedback from them.
“This week is going to be exceptionally difficult in that we’ve got three games in seven days rather than three games in eight and those extra 24 hours do make a massive difference when it comes to recovery and preparation for games.
“We’ve got a squad of players in which we have got quite a few injuries. We’ve got quite a few knocks and bruises and some lads are going to have to go again and some lads won’t be able to go again.
“We have to keep in mind that we are very, very close to travelling to an away game, which is going to be coming up on Saturday which is going to be a massive game for us.”
Town’s full-backs on Saturday, skipper Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward, are 34 and 35 respectively. Can they cope with playing three games in a week in such a demanding position?
“Yes, they’re both experienced lads,” Taylor insisted. "You look at Wardy, who was up at Burnley, renowned for playing three games a week and he would churn it out no problem. Chambo’s of the same ilk. They might be 34 and 35 but they’re running about 12-year-olds just now which is great.
“It’s a great lesson for the younger ones and we’ve actually pointed out a few things already about their application and their desire and their hunger on the football pitch.
“Against Bristol Rovers, Wardy’s played a pass into the box when we were attacking, it’s got cut out and he’s back down defending a cross at the back post area.
“And that’s the mentality and professionalism, the standards that Wardy’s got, and Chambo’s no different. It’s a great lesson for the younger players to go and learn from.”
Taylor said there won’t be any senior players in the U23s team taking on Millwall in a behind-closed-doors game at Playford Road this afternoon - “No, there won’t be, the squad’s not big enough” - with midfielder Tristan Nydam not yet ready to play matches following his 14-month absence due to a broken ankle and ligament damage.
“Tristan’s coming along really, really well but in terms of playing games he’s still a good bit away from that,” he said.
“His rehab has been positive lately, he’s taken leaps and bounds. He’s been in the grass, which is great to see, but he’s still a wee bit away from playing games.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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