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Neal to check on Kwesi’s fitness ahead of Oxford

In-depth interview with the manager before home match on Saturday

27 September 2018

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Kwesi Appiah today returned to full training after shrugging off a groin strain and Neal Ardley said he will check on the striker’s fitness before selecting a squad to face Oxford United.

Kwesi missed the defeat at Accrington Stanley and so too did Anthony Wordsworth, who was struck down by a bout of tonsillitis, and he has also made good progress.

Speaking during an in-depth interview for iFollow, Neal said: “Anthony has been back training this week. He was quite ill last week, so it’s been tough for him. The first couple of days were tough and he felt that a little bit. We will monitor him and see if he needs another week or not. Kwesi came back into training today, so, again, you are always waiting to see the reaction and whether he picks up any niggles, or if he comes through it. Touch wood, that’s all good and, apart from Terrel Thomas we will have close to a full squad.”

The manager retains plenty of belief in the current squad to turn results around and he’s been working hard with the players to instil those winning habits.

“We’ve gone hard on them, I told them that we would,” added Neal. “We had a good chat and it’s always about getting that balance right. Confidence and momentum is a big thing in football and if you keep battering them the confidence goes. They need to know how good they can be, but they need to know what things they were doing when they were good, things that they perhaps haven’t done lately. It’s an obvious one, but stop conceding poor goals and so on and so forth. We’ve worked on it and we will stick with the boys because I genuinely believe that they are a really talented group.”

“It’s early doors still, even though you don’t want to get 15 games in and, like last season, be in a fight down there. You have to get good habits quickly that make a difference. We’re working hard on that, but we cannot put any more pressure from outside than what we do on ourselves. You can talk about not winning at home yet, the three defeats on the trot. We have put a lot of pressure on ourselves, we don’t need any more. We have to absolutely make sure that we are doing the right things every week. If we do that we believe the qualities are there for it to turn.

“I look at myself before I look at the players, including the messages you are giving them and what you can do better. I am not happy with losing games of football. I believe this is the most talented squad we could have had here. The players know my feelings on that, but it’s got to transfer into results. That’s my job. If we are not (getting the results), that’s down to me. I am the one who has to get the players playing the way that they need to play to win games of football. We can’t keep being unlucky: we didn’t get a penalty, we didn’t get this, or get that. We can’t keep playing well and not winning or playing poorly and then trying to get back in it.

“It is just trying to get those habits and it’s not easy to do that in football.  We just have to go through processes to know our jobs, to know what will win us games. That’s coming away from the obvious of scoring more goals than the opposition. We have to know all the bits and bobs that make a difference. We are just trying to make sure we add that to what’s already there and if we do all of that we give ourselves a better chance.”

The full interview with Neal is available by clicking on the link to our iFollow channel above.

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