Norwood Back For Pompey Trip, Hawkins Closing in on Return
Friday, 19th Mar 2021 10:46
Striker James Norwood is available for tomorrow’s trip to Portsmouth, while Oli Hawkins is a week or so away from returning to the squad and manager Paul Cook says there could be “announcements” on one or two of the players who haven't been involved since he took charge at Town.
Norwood has missed the last two matches having suffered with back spasms and looks certain to return to the lone frontman’s role at Fratton Park.
Asked whether Norwood could be involved against Pompey, Cook said: “He’s available.”
Cook says it’s positive news but believes players’ value to the side sometimes gets over-hyped following a poor result or performance.
“The problem when you don’t win football games is that everybody who is not playing becomes a better player,” he said.
“They haven’t become a better player, we’ve just played really poorly the other night and got beat.
“So for me having James Norwood fit and available is a massive boost, no matter what because he certainly is a man who can read the line for us well, that’s for sure.”
Cook says another striker, Hawkins, is close to making his return having undergone knee surgery in January.
“He’s just joined in for the first time yesterday,” the Blues manager said. “Next week probably having a full week’s training, I would imagine Oli could be back for selection probably after that.”
Midfielder Cole Skuse made his first start of the season at Fleetwood on Tuesday having been out following a knee operation of his own.
Quizzed on whether the 34-year-old will be fit enough to go again against Pompey, Cook said: “You know yourselves, Cole’s not played a lot of football for a long time, so to play 80 minutes the other night [was a big ask].
“We all know how good a player and an experienced pro Cole Skuse is, so it’s just a situation we’re monitoring.
“As you can imagine, the lads got back from Fleetwood at five o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, the lads who played the minutes haven’t really been together until this morning.
“It’s like with every club, you’re just regrouping and getting ready to go again.”
A number of players haven’t featured at all under Cook, including the likes of Luke Matheson, Emyr Huws, Luke Thomas and Mark McGuinness.
Asked about their situations, Cook says there could be news regarding some of them, perhaps indicating that contracts may be settled or loan players sent back to their parent clubs.
“I think obviously the club might have one or two announcements on one or two,” he said. “I think with the Mark McGuinnesses and them there, they’re certainly in and around the squad to travel tomorrow.
“I think if you take out the Fleetwood result and performance, we just looked like we were getting going before that.
“And I’m not a great believer in chopping and changing. I think lads deserve that extra chance. That’s not my style.
“My style is to give everyone every opportunity to do what they think is right. I’m sure our team won’t be chopped and changed tomorrow and then if we can’t keep doing well, then the reality is that we will see other players, for sure.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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