Cook to Make Changes as Hawkins and Skuse Make Progress
Monday, 8th Mar 2021 11:55
Town boss Paul Cook says the Blues suffered no new injuries at Gillingham on Saturday but that he will make changes to his team for the visit of Lincoln on Tuesday with an unnamed player involved who wasn't in the 18 at the weekend, while Alan Judge has indicated he wants to make a quick return, Oli Hawkins is close to being back and Cole Skuse continues to make progress, but Tristan Nydam has suffered a minor setback.
“We came through with no adverse reactions from the game,” Cook said when asked about his squad’s fitness following the 3-1 defeat at the Priestfield Stadium.
“I think physically they are okay. I think obviously mentally we mightn’t be as fit as well as we were physically.”
Alan Judge missed Saturday’s game following the death of his mother and Cook says the Irish international has been told to take as much time as he needs before getting back involved.
“Obviously, it's a really difficult time for any person to go through,” Cook continued. “Alan is making signs that he wants to come back immediately and he wants to be involved, and we're obviously telling Alan that we support him in whatever he wishes to do. That's something that I really wouldn't want to comment on.
“Alan's being as positive as everyone would expect Alan to be so Alan, I would imagine, would want to start tomorrow night. Obviously, today will be a very difficult day for him, and we'll see how he is after everything settles down.”
Striker Hawkins underwent a knee operation six weeks ago and is making good progress, however having even more players available adds to the decisions Cook has got to make.
“I think he’s just about ready, I think he’s just about getting there and it’s one of the problems with the squad is does it help or add to the confusion?” the Blues boss reflected.
“It’s the truth, isn’t it? It’s not a criticism because sometimes when you sit down on a Monday and you’ve lost on Saturday, for example, or a Sunday, you can have too many options. It’s just how it is. You can end up adding to the problem rather than helping the problem.
“Certainly tomorrow we’re going to be based on certain criteria within the team, we will be off the same page.
“Going forward, we’re delighted that Oli will be back fit because he’s certainly an experienced player who has got a pedigree in football and I can see him being a big help on the pitch.”
He says Nydam, who has been out since July 2019 having suffered a broken ankle and ligament damage, has suffered a minor problem as he continues his return, while midfielder Skuse, who underwent knee surgery in October, is getting closer to his return.
“Tristan’s had a little bit of a setback on Thursday, that’s probably put another week on his return to training,” he said.
“Cole’s doing very well at the minute, he’s had some really rigorous sessions under his belt and gets closer and closer.”
But he says Skuse won’t be involved in the U23s at Swansea this afternoon: “Not today, none of them will be involved in the football in the next two days, but certainly Cole will be training but Tristan’s still with the medical staff.”
Cook says it's important to speak to players currently out of the team or sidelined and says someone who wasn't involved at all at the weekend will play against Lincoln tomorrow.
“One hundred per cent,” he said “You'll see tomorrow night the team will change tomorrow night, a lad will be involved tomorrow night that probably wasn't even in the 18 on Saturday.
“And that's the reason as a manager you want the lads to work hard on the training ground and you've got to be prepared so that when your opportunity comes, you're fit and ready to take it.
“And for us as a club now, it's a big opportunity going forward. We've got 15 games to go and we've got so much to play for.
“The optimism and energy at the training ground must be transmitted onto the pitch and we didn't see that on Saturday, and that was the disappointing thing for us.”
Asked who the player not in the 18 who will be involved is, Cook laughed: “I knew I'd leave you with something!”
Cook also commented on Jon Nolan suffering a medial collateral ligament injury in training last week, a problem that will see the midfielder sidelined for two months.
“It was a real blow for Jon,” Cook said. “I had an idea of the squad before I arrived and he was a player I was really looking forward to working with.
“I've followed his career closely and seen him progress at clubs. He's the type of player that I really like and hopefully we'll get to work together soon.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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