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McKenna: Duo Made Steps in the Right Direction in Pre-Season
Thursday, 4th Aug 2022 17:38

Blues boss says former West Brom duo Rekeem Harper and Kyle Edwards have both made positive steps during pre-season.

The pair joined Town last summer, Edwards after leaving West Brom, while the Blues paid a fee understood to be in the region of £500,000 for Harper.

Having started 2021/22 in the team, both drifted out of regular involvement with Harper, 22, joining Crewe on loan for the second half of the season and Edwards, 24, suffering a quad injury in February, which prematurely ended his campaign.

“I think they've both made steps in the right direction in pre-season, I have to say,” McKenna said. “Two players who I didn't see a lot of in the second half of last season – Kyle and Rekeem were both recovering from Covid when I arrived.

“Kyle obviously picked up an injury fairly early into my tenure and Rekeem at that stage we thought it was best, because he hadn't played a lot of football since the very early stages of the season, for him to go out and get some more regular football.

“It's been an important pre-season for them, they've both made positive steps and Rekeem has made an impression across the pre-season games and in training, is fitter and has a better understanding of the game and how we play and showing an increased maturity in his game from when I first saw him in January.

“So, he's made steps forward. Obviously, there is competition in that area and he's going to have to continue to compete as he is and wait for his chances and impress when the chances do come along, so he's made good steps forward.

“Kyle has had a broken time with injuries and a big injury at the back end of last year. He started pre-season positively and then missed some time with a smaller injury, but one that cost him a couple of pre-season games and has put him a little bit behind the group.

“But he's making an impression in training and I thought he had lots of positives against Southend in that performance.

“He needs to continue to impress in training and wait for the opportunities when they come. We have a lot of games in this month alone, so he has to be ready when the opportunities come and make an impression as he did against Southend.”

Harper was on the bench for last week’s season opener against Bolton but Edwards was one of six players seen as part of the first-team squad left out of the 18, alongside Kane Vincent-Young, Matt Penney, Idris El Mizouni, Corrie Ndaba, Idris El Mizouni and Cameron Humphreys.

McKenna says it’s not too much of a surprise that so many players are left on the sidelines at this stage of the season with only Dominic Ball currently out with an injury, although the former QPR man should be back for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Colchester United at Portman Road.

“I think that’s pretty common, to be fair, at this stage of the season,” McKenna reflected. “If you’ve done the right things in pre-season, everyone talks about wanting to have a 20-man squad or a 22-man squad, despite the changes regarding the number of subs, you can still only have 16 outfielders on the pitch or on the bench.

“So it’s common to have, at this stage of the season, some people who don’t make the matchday squad, certainly across the bigger clubs in any division, but that’s football.

“There are a lot of games in the season. We’ll have hopefully, if we go through in the Carabao Cup, eight games in August and there’s hopefully 50-plus, maybe 60 games to be played in the season.

“There’s a lot of football, everyone has to keep training well, competing well to get in the matchday squad and get in the starting XIs.”

Most of those players are likely to feature in Tuesday’s cup tie against the U’s with McKenna having promised changes from the team which faces Forest Green Rovers in League One on Saturday.


Photo: Matchday Images



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Mariner1974 added 22:05 - Aug 4
Would love to see these two flourish this season.

Edwards was so exciting to watch, and though our formation doesn't offer itself to a traditional winger, I hope he gets chance to show his trickery off again.

Harper if he gets going is a very stylish centre mid, who has the athleticism to leave many in his wake. Started last season with Evans, and fell away, but with McKenna and his team coaching him, hopefully he'll take that next step forward

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Tractor_Boy_in_HK added 07:32 - Aug 5
Both have potential, but I'm unsure how either get many minutes with the first team in the league this season.
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