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McKenna: We Know We Have a Good Squad But We Are Looking at Options
Thursday, 6th Jan 2022 16:58

Blues boss Kieran McKenna says Town have a strong squad but will look at making astute additions during the January transfer window, while confirming that some current players could depart.

McKenna said at his afternoon press conference that there is currently strong competition for places on the bench, let alone the team, and was asked whether that meant it would be a quiet January in terms of players coming in.

“We always want to improve on whatever aspects we can, whether it’s quality, whether it’s variety maybe, something that we don’t have in the squad in terms of cover,” he said.

“We’re not in a position where we want to settle, we know we have a good squad, we know we have depth but the club are looking at options and if there’s a marginal gain or a gain that we can make, then we’ll look to do so.

“I’m happy with what’s here, we know we have a strong squad but at the same time, we’re in a position where if there’s something that we feel can improve the group for whatever reason, then we’re in a position to look at that as well.”

Does he expect additions now or perhaps later on in the window? “The club like to do their work early and they have been doing work on some players over the last few months, and we certainly want to plan things out well when possible.

“Obviously, sometimes situations come up where you have to make a late decision. But in general, going forward, we want things to be planned out and be rational and want to be part of the bigger picture. That’s how we want to operate.

“We don’t feel at the moment that we are massively short in any particular area. We feel like we have a good squad, we have depth, we have cover in each position, so we’re not urgently thinking we need somebody in the door tomorrow.

“But, like I said, we want to improve and we have to improve, the team has to do better and the club has to do better, so we’re looking at all options in terms of positions where we can add quality or add variation, experience or youth.

“We’re looking at what is the right balance - what qualities do we have in the squad, what qualities do we have in each position and what could we maybe add to the squad.

“January is a long month, we have time and we want to make good, rational decisions that help us in the short-term but also fit into the long-term picture, so that’s what we look to do over the next few weeks.”

Asked about the profile of potential signings, McKenna added: “I think we have to keep all options open, to be honest. We’re in the middle of the season and we want short-term people who can help us get points in the short term.

“But obviously, going forward, we want to develop a group, we want to have a core group here that have the right experience of youth but also some experienced players that want to grow and develop with us over the next couple of season.

“So we’re very clear on the profile of player and profile of person that we want over the medium and longer term.

“But over the short-term, it’s about what can help the group for now and whether that’s a young player coming out on loan who can add to the squad straight away or whether it’s a more experienced player who maybe has more matches and minutes under his belt that can help the team for the rest of the season.

“We’re keeping all options open, and we’ll look across the board and look to get the right people in in terms of quality but also personality.”

Given the Northern Irishman’s background working in Manchester United’s academy prior to his time with their senior squad, a number of young Red Devils players have been claimed to be on his wish-list since he took charge.

While, his scope will be somewhat wider than just his old clubs, he was at Spurs before his time at Old Trafford, McKenna says that that could be a fruitful area for the Blues to look at.

“Obviously, it’s a good market to be able to tap into, not just at United, but I feel like I’ve got really good links at Liverpool, at Tottenham, at Arsenal, at Chelsea and at all of the big academy clubs thankfully from working at those academies for such a long period of time,” he said.

“I’ve got good relationships with all those clubs, so that’s one option of a market for us going forward, but it’s not the only one.

“I’ve enjoyed and worked with experienced players as well, I started coaching the first-team at United when I was 32 and we had players that were 35 and 36, so I’m also very comfortable working with senior players and working with experienced players is something I enjoy as well.

“We have to look across the market and obviously we want to have that balance. It’s good to have young players, hungry players who want to improve with us and develop with us over time but also we need that kind of experience and people who have got lots of games under their belt and know the game well and especially players who have got experience of this league as well.

“So it’s about having that balance and that blend and our recruitment will focus not just for January but in the summer it will be about getting a balance across the spectrum, so we end up with the right mixture and right makeup of the squad we want.”

With the squad already large, will incoming signings mean some players will have to move on?

“We want the squad to be hungry, we want everyone here to feel like they have a chance to play, to feel like they are competing for something, to feel like if they train and perform well, then they will get minutes and comes to a point where if the squad is too big then it’s difficult to give everyone that feeling. It’s difficult for everyone to feel like they’ve got a big part to play,” he said.

“So, numbers and the size of the squad is something that we are aware of. The players here who I’ve met and have been fit, I’m happy with them, but also it might come to a stage where one or two might want to move on if they feel like they’ve got more opportunity to get minutes elsewhere.

“If they feel like they need to get games and they need to get exposure, then that is an option for us, and that is an option that we would discuss with them.

“We want to do right by the club and we need to do right by the team, but also we want to do right by the players here, and if it’s better for some of them to get minutes elsewhere, then that’s something we will look at.”

Former boss Paul Cook said earlier today that there was “no recruitment room” at Town. Asked about the situation regarding the recruitment side of the club, McKenna said: “It’s definitely an area the club are trying to develop. Like I said, I have a long-term plan and vision of how I want to develop the team in terms of playing style, in terms of profiles of players that we want in the building.

“The club are aware of that and we know that part of that is bringing the right players in, so it’s an area that the club are working on.

“There are already systems and processes in place, there’s already a lot of work that’s gone in before I arrived, but it’s also something that the club feel like they want and need to develop over time in terms of staff and in terms of structure and resources with our recruitment.

“Obviously, the club have already made a massive investment in the squad over the summer in terms of players coming in and the owners are willing and capable to invest in the squad going forward.

“So, as I said, it’s really important that those decisions are made to benefit us in the short term but also to fit into a long-term plan to a vision of how we want the team to be going forward, and that’s something that we’re in constant dialogue with the club on at the moment and something the club are working really hard on to keep improving going forward.”

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Linkboy13 added 17:13 - Jan 6
Although we signed nineteen new players in the summer most of which have been excellent i feel that the balance has not been quite right. We have an abundance of lightweight skilful players for example Fraser, Celina, Chaplin, Edwards, Aluko, Carroll etc. I think we need more physicality in the squad if we are going to get out of this league.

CraigEdwards added 17:19 - Jan 6
He does bring himself over really well and for his age very experienced.
Although the club were looking for at least a playoff spot I really think it’s build for next season. No point getting promoted without as least a squad to keep us up and to progress with this squad
Like the feel I really do. COYBs

Timefliesbyintheblue added 17:24 - Jan 6
Give our new manager credit where it is due; it is so refreshing to hear interviews that are informative and full of his ideas and the clubs real interest in taking ITFC forward. It is just the kind of stuff we as supporters want to hear. It will not be all plain sailing, but in my opinion if this gentleman can not take us forward, I am not sure if anyone can. Yes there are still lots of issues and areas where improvement is needed both on and off the pitch, but we seem to be addressing those slowly.
I am convinced that McKenna has a very good managerial career in front of him; we must as a club make sure we look after the guy properly and meet his needs and not just in terms of finance. He will be a success, I so very much hope it will be at our/my club ITFC.

RobsonWark added 18:14 - Jan 6
Linkboy13 I definitely agree with you on Fraser and Carroll but you also missed off Penny.

Lord_Mac added 18:19 - Jan 6
I'm very encouraged. Strangely enough, in most businesses 35 would not be considered young for a senior management position. Generalising grossly, people have the best combination of energy/new ideas and experience/old ideas at around 35 to 45. You'd think in football, where the job involves physical training, it would tend if anything to the lower end. I'm 67, so very much at the experience over energy end!

ringwoodblue added 18:37 - Jan 6
This guy is well connected and has an extensive network for potential recruitment of good quality loan players from some big clubs.

I still think the club need to improve its scouting network into Europe and beyond as this is an area that has been largely overlooked in recent years. We need to find the next Muhren, Thijssen or Counago

Linkboy13 added 19:49 - Jan 6
Yes thanks for your input Robson Wark i was referring to our attacking players. Yes agree Penney has been a bit of a disappointment and it's one area we need to strengthen. Clements started well and then struggled physically in his next two games. Coulson is another one of our lightweight players and is better as an attacking wingback. Penney was much improved in the Wycombe game and might be happier under the new manager. Im prepared to give credit where it's due and not write a player off because i don't rate him.

markchips added 20:00 - Jan 6
Don’t think loan players are the answer. Some tough, physical players with extensive experience of this league is what is needed. Too overweight with lightweights at the moment.

Ipswichbusiness added 21:02 - Jan 6
Equally interesting is who will leave. Kenlock, Jackson and Nolan have contributed virtually nothing this season and, if we sign Walton on a permanent deal, then I can’t see a future for Holy.

I don’t mind a couple of loan players coming in. What I would hate to see is a repetition of this time last season when Lambert brought in a large number of loanees, none of which contributed much and seemed to have been recruited simply to make up numbers.

bobble added 08:17 - Jan 7
i didnt realise that january was a longer month than the others.

planetblue_2011 added 11:06 - Jan 7
To be honest I don’t think we need anymore than 1 or 2 players with the squad we’ve got. If we can sign Walton & Bonne permanently & keep Norwood at the club beyond this season then that is 3 great signings already. If we sell Holy, Nsiala, Kenlock & Jackson for example we could sign a another quality striker & centre back which could boost the squad but as McKenna says only in the weaker areas we need if any🤷‍♂️
It’s all about signing the right personal & I’m sure McKenna will do that👍

Bazza8564 added 10:12 - Jan 8
Plantblue and I see eye to eye on this one, but ive said before we need a massive outgoing, so I wouldnt stop with that list, id sent a few out on loan too. El Miz, Harper, I think we need to get 6 off the books and use the financial headroom to do the deals PB suggests, and see if we can get a couple of really high impact loanees in and have a real go second half. With KM contacts everything is possible, even someone like Phil Jones at Utd for a loan spell, he's played one game in 2 years, maybe thats a bit left field but think of that experience. If Villa can get Coutinho it just shows how a manager with credentials and ambition can operate.

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