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Alexander confirms Novak will be available for Gillingham trip

25 September 2017

United manager Graham Alexander has confirmed striker Lee Novak will be available for the League One trip to Gillingham on Tuesday night.

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25 September 2017

The forward has scored twice in the last two games, but came off during the 2-0 victory over Portsmouth at the weekend with cramp.

Ahead of the midweek match at Priestfield, Alexander spoke to iFollow Iron and provided updates on his injured players, assessed the impact Gillingham head coach Ady Pennock’s departure on Monday morning would have, and also spoke about the preparations ahead of two long distance away matches this week.

GA: He’s fine and will train on Monday. He spoke to Chris Burton (head of medical and sports science) during the day on Sunday to give him some information, and Chris has had a look at him on Monday morning and says he’s fine. It was just a little bit of cramp at the time. We took him off more as a precaution. If it was 0-0, we might have left him on, but we were 2-0 up and knew Tom Hopper could come on and do that job as well, so there was no point risking him for the rest of the game. He will be part of our squad for Tuesday.

GA: It was great timing - him and Andrew Crofts coming into the club on Transfer Deadline Day. Both are experienced campaigners over many seasons and it gave the squad a good boost seeing two men like that walk through the door. Crofty hasn’t had his opportunity yet, but Lee has taken part in every game, starting the last three and scoring twice in the last two fixtures. We’re really pleased with his all-around play. His work ethic for the team, allied to the efforts of the other players around him, has been superb. He’s brought others into play and used his experience in different parts of the game. He’s shown his qualities in each of the matches he’s played. I’m pleased with his start but there’s a long way to go in the season. He’s an experienced player though and I know he can keep that up.

Lee Novak

GA: Crofty is training with us now again. He returned to it at the end of last week. It was probably too soon, after being out for a couple of weeks, to be in the squad for Saturday, but we’ll have another look at him on Monday. He’s feeling no ill effects from his injury. It’s good to have another quality player to be able to pick from.

GA: Conor is still in the same situation, so he won’t be part of the squad on Tuesday. It’s nothing major but it’s enough to keep him out for a couple of games, so we’ll see how he progresses during the week. We’ll be away for the majority of the week now, though he’ll be with the medical team back at Glanford Park and we’ll see how he is. It’s a matter really of how quickly he can heal, but we know we have Lewis Butroid and he didn’t do himself any ill favours on Saturday from his performance. I felt he grew into the game and showed a lot of confidence on the ball, and defended well when we had to. We’re as we were with Luke Williams and Jonathon Margetts, while Charlie Goode is still a couple of weeks away from fitness.

"The early signs are good, the players are in good shape and are positive about what we’re doing."

Graham Alexander, manager

GA: That won’t have any impact for me and my players. The only impact it could have is on Gillingham, but we never take any of these issues into our focus. We focus on what we can do. The biggest thing for us is making sure we get our performance right. It’s the best way of making sure we give ourselves the best chance of winning. We’ll go down there and look to play our usual game, and take it to the opposition. It’s sad to see another manager lose his job at such an early stage of the season, but it’s happening more and more often and isn’t something that greatly surprises me anymore. Our focus is on what we can do, and take to the game. We have to go down there with the same mentality we’ve shown all season really. We’ve generally built up a momentum of performance, rather than results, but it’s paid dividends in our results getting better as we’ve gone along. We know we’re still at an early stage of the season, being nine games into what will be a marathon season. The early signs are good, the players are in good shape and are positive about what we’re doing. We have to keep that up in all the games, but only starting on Tuesday.

GA: The preparations will be different inbetween the games more than anything. We’re going to travel down on Tuesday morning, so we’re not sat around a hotel all day long. We’ve made some different plans during the week inbetween the games to make sure we give ourselves the best chance of the highest possible performance level in both games. It’s not just how we look after the players - it’s about what they do between the games, and what they did on Sunday. It’s important they understand their responsibility of doing the right things in their own time. I know they do, because the statistics show that. They’re a really good group of players, and it’s important we do that because we know the physical challenges we face each week, and we have to play at a real good tempo because when we’re at our best that’s how we play. We’ll do the right things with the players. We’re lucky enough to have the support from the board here, and the players appreciate that. They go into the games full of energy and ready to perform.

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