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Selection dilemma for Robbo after Osew’s resurgence

Update from our Head Coach ahead of Fleetwood

25 November 2021

Mark Robinson said that Paul Osew’s rejuvenation has given him a welcome selection headache ahead of Fleetwood Town’s visit on Saturday.

The speedy full-back has been a revelation after switching to right-back, but Henry Lawrence is now fully recovered after tonsillitis and pushing for a recall.

Robbo said: “It’s really difficult and it’s exactly how it should be. I am chuffed for Paul as he’s a fantastic lad, as you all know. He’s so popular. So much of football is to do with the mental side of the game and a big part of our job is to get players confident again when you can see that they are struggling a little bit for various reasons. It’s been lovely to see the two performances he has put in. He put in a good performance against Portsmouth and he probably went a level above that on Tuesday night.

“I just took him off because he felt a slight twinge in his hip, but he is feeling fine. It’s the same with Nesta, who took quite a heavy challenge, but he is fine as well. The competition is exactly what we need. Henry needs to be champing at the bit to try and get back in there. We want competition in all positions. We haven’t got a big squad so the fact that we’ve got players coming back is good. Hopefully, Will is not too far away. We want excellent performances and everyone trying to get into to the team.”

Ollie Palmer is arguably playing the best football of his Dons career so far and Robbo believes that he could work well alongside Aaron Pressley if required.

“That’s something we will definitely look at, and we can do it anytime,” said our Head Coach. “They need to make sure that they can work together, but I definitely think they can. For the last few weeks we’ve been playing with that width because we feel it’s important. That has meant we’ve played with just one down the middle, but we can change at any point and get our width in other ways. It’s certainly something we will look at.

“Ollie has been excellent since he came back and I was just saying to someone earlier that he’s a very good footballer. It’s not just about having the big man up top because he’s so much more than that. He links the play up so well for us and brings other people into play. He completely suits the style that we want to play, as will Aaron.”

With Interim Head Coach Stephen Crainey taking over the reins after the departure of Simon Grayson, Robbo added that his squad must be tactically aware on Saturday.

“We do a 20-minute video package on the opposition for the players, and they then sit down and deliver to us about what they are thinking,” said Robbo. “I asked what their thinking was, and if what we do will work, but they said it’s a little bit unknown because it’s a new manager. They used the example of when I came in as Interim Manager - we completely changed formation. I’ve gone back to them and said, ‘this is exactly why you have to understand that it shouldn’t all come from the coach’. They need to take ownership.

“Football is always changing and if we prepare for something on Saturday and it’s completely different then it’s very difficult to perform. It’s much healthier to have players who can recognise different situations and adapt. That’s what we’ve talked about because we don’t know what’s coming. Their manager is only going to have a couple of days to work with them, but he might try and implement a different style so we have to be ready for that.”

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