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SATURDAY IS OUR ONLY FOCUS

9 January 2015

Assistant manager Ned Kelly the Iron players' are only focused on Saturday’s game with Walsall, and not at the play-off places above.

When addressing the media on Thursday afternoon, Kelly admitted the team have played well as of late, but that they shouldn’t get ahead of themselves going in to such a difficult away tie.

Kelly said: “We’ve been here three months now and every time I say we only concentrate on the one game, but more broadly I think we’ve done okay so far. The gap between the top six and the gap between the bottom area is very, very tight.

"Three defeats on the bounce and you’re in trouble and three wins on the spin everyone is talking about play-offs, so we are trying to keep a lid on everything and trying to keep everything as calm as possible and just concentrate on the forthcoming games.

"We set ourselves up for Saturday. I’ve never been in a mind of looking too far ahead, you can’t affect anything in two weeks’ time, we may be a completely different team in two weeks’ time, we may have injuries, suspensions or other problems.

"You can only concentrate on what’s coming and the immediate thing is Walsall, so that’s where all the focus and concentration is.”

Walsall were in action on Wednesday night when they won 2-0 at Preston North End in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and Kelly wasn’t surprised by the Saddlers' courage and resolve during a tough 90 minutes.

Kelly continued: “Preston were superb for the first 30 minutes or so and were unlucky to have not gone in front. But typically of Dean’s teams they have a ‘never say die’ attitude and they keep going, keep trying to play, keep trying to get the ball forward and they scored two good goals.

"It shows that they are a resilient bunch, and it was a very, very good result for them.”

Kelly has a very close relationship with Saturday’s opposing coaching staff, and knows exactly what Walsall manager Dean Smith has at his disposal.

Kelly said: “He’s got them working extremely hard. He’s got a good confidence in the group of players he’s got, they are quick on the break, and they’ve got some pacey players within the team.

"We all know games don’t finish after 90 minutes, there is always five or six minutes depending whether you’ve got an Alex Ferguson watch or an Arsene Wenger watch! They finished the game off very well at Deepdale on Wednesday so we’ll be mindful of that.

"They are a threat, as are most of the teams in the league, but Dean has been there a long time now, he’s had an awful long time to stamp his authority on the club, his signature on the team, and they are a well ran, well-oiled unit."

Despite all this, Kelly has placed his utmost trust in the players to show their qualities in the clash at the Banks's Stadium, and praised their discipline in the meantime.

Kelly said: “I think we’ve been very well organised.

"The players have been a credit to themselves with how they take on all of the information, how we try and set out, how we try and organise ourselves defensively, both for and against.

"It’s been very pleasing since we’ve been here in that we have progressed, but the players can take an awful lot of credit for that because they are obviously listening to the instructions."

After being quizzed on the current injury status’ of the squad, Kelly was pleased to announce that the team had no fresh injury concerns, and commented on the availability of goalkeeper James Severn and midfielder Isaiah Osbourne.

Kelly said: “Sevs is coming back. He’s had the all clear medically, so he’s back in the training group and we’ll look at him over the next few weeks, however he isn’t quite fit enough to play yet.

"We think Isaiah is okay. He’s back in training today and he’ll be back in tomorrow, but he’s had a virus that has taken a few of the lads down with it, but Ozzy will be okay and should be available for the weekend.

"He’s not been feeling well the last few days but he’ll come for a run around tomorrow, and we’ll see what he looks like, and if he looks okay he’ll be in contention.

Finally, returning to Ned Kelly’s familiarity with Walsall, the Iron assistant manager commented on the possibility of the match turning in to a ‘human chess game’.

Kelly stated: “I think we try and do that every game.

"We had that the other night with Cooky (Paul Cook), as I played with him at Wolves years ago, so you’re trying to out think everybody and try and put different spins on tactics and formations.

"I’ve seen quite a lot of Walsall, as Dean and Richard were very good to me when I was there to work because they allowed me to go and watch plenty of the games, so I know a bit about them, but that being said they are a good team, and we are going to need to be at our best.”

See much more from Ned Kelly on The Iron Player.


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