Taylor: Getting Back to Near Enough a Full Squad
Friday, 8th Jan 2021 11:06
Assistant boss Stuart Taylor says the Blues are “getting back to near enough a full squad” with Town’s injured players having used the Covid-19-enforced Christmas break to get close to returning to action.
Taylor was standing in for manager Paul Lambert at this morning’s press conference, the Blues boss having been one of those who tested positive for Covid over the holiday period. Positive tests at Town and their opposition have meant that the Blues’ last four matches have been postponed.
“Having that sidetrack of the Covid thing, it’s given the injured players more time to get back fit without missing any games, which has been really important for is because they’re all key members and important players in the team,” Taylor said.
“Those fixtures have now been put back and hopefully we can keep our full squad fit for all those games because the schedule is incredible.
“I think we’ve got something like 18 games in two months, which is unheard of and it’s really demanding and it’s something we need the squad for to go into all those games.”
Prior to Christmas Town had a lengthy injury list including many of their more senior players. James Norwood (hamstring), Gwion Edwards (hamstring), Teddy Bishop (ankle), James Wilson, Flynn Downes, Cole Skuse (all knee), Jon Nolan (calf) and Keanan Bennetts (groin), while Kane Vincent-Young (achilles), Freddie Sears (hamstring) and Tristan Nydam (ankle) were making progress towards their returns.
“Norwood, he’s been back training, he’s taken a couple of training sessions this week,” Taylor said. “Flynn Downes has done every training day this week bar one, which was part of his rehab programme and he was never going to be doing that day.
“It’s been a positive in that sense. Those two players being back has given a lift in the dressing room. Flynn’s character and the attributes that he’s got and can bring to the team along with Nors, it’s given the lads a lift.
“Freddie is definitely back. he was back earlier than Flynn and Nors, so he was almost in the group of being in contention for Fleetwood and being in contention for Swindon anyway. Freddie has come in, and he’s actually looked like he’s never been out, so that’s been a positive.
“Just across the pitch, we’ve got Kane and Gwion and Bishop and Nolan, they’re all working hard on the side with Walshy [sports therapist Tom Walsh], so they’re not too far away, hopefully.
“Up to now, their programme has been good this week and they’ve had all good news and hopefully that will be the same today and tomorrow for their programme.
“Fingers crossed with a bit of luck we’ll have them available with the training squad on Monday. We’re getting back to near enough a full squad now.
“Cole’s coming along fine, along with James Wilson but I would say they’re still a wee bit away from being on the grass.”
Winger Bennetts is another that’s not too far from a return to action: “Keanan is coming into that category along with Kane, Gwion, Bishop and Nolo where that five are over there training on that pitch at the side of us, so they’re on the grass which is fantastic to see, and there’s a great hope that they’ll be back training with us come Monday.”
“The team needs them, and we’ve always seen the positives from them. I mean Keanan before he got injured in the Burton game he looked really lively, he was dangerous every time he got on the ball he was positive and confident, and hence he got his goal.
“So that injury came at a terrible time for him and for us because he really was flying with confidence and I’m sure he’ll pick up where he left off.
“It’ll be great to have Kane back and about things with the performances he was churning out before his injury but that was way back over a year ago now, and we’re going to have to be patient with him and take time and making sure, because he came back a couple of weeks ago and he just felt it a little bit hence the reason why he came back out again.
“But Gwion and Nolo, we know the importance of them all so it will be great to have them back about it, especially going into the fixture list that we’ve got coming up.
“The more players that are available for selection, the better and, dare I say it, if there needs to be a little bit of rotating in that squad I don’t know because I’m not the manager, but certainly I believe that’s something that we need to look at because to ask lads to go and play Saturday-Tuesday for eight weeks back-to-back.
“You know exactly what it’s like to go and do it two weeks back-to-back let alone doing it after eight, so we definitely need to have everybody fit and available and ready to go.”
In addition to the players back from injury, midfielder Idris El Mizouni has been recalled from his loan spell at Cambridge United with the Blues likely to need their full squad in a very busy second half of the season.
“Everybody comes into contention, even the kids that have come up previously,” Taylor added. “We try and keep them in and about the squad, training and giving them that experience.
“Idris has come back from his loan spell, the manager will have a look at him over the next two, three, four weeks and see what’s right for his development, along with a couple of other lads.
“But it is important that we keep everybody fit because it’s going to be a really gruelling fixture list over the next couple of months.”
He says there are no plans to field any of the players on the way back from injury in the U23s friendly against Crystal Palace at Playford Road on Saturday afternoon.
“As it stands at this moment in time, none of the injured lads are going to play in that game.”
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