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Alexander ahead of Rochdale challenge

23 March 2018

Manager Graham Alexander has previewed the home game against Rochdale for iFollow Iron.

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23 March 2018

The United boss provided some good news on the injury front, and assessed the challenge Keith Hill’s side will pose.

GA: We’ve helped the players recover from last week’s exertions. We had another reserve game on Monday, to give game time to the boys who didn’t play last week, which is good. We’re trying to keep them in tip-top shape to compete and take their opportunities. The weather has made it tough in the first part of this week but we were out on the grass on Thursday as a full squad, and we had a good competitive upbeat session.

GA: A couple of the lads had limited game time, which we had planned, but it was good and the players approached it in the right way. They worked hard and that’s the biggest thing for me, that they go into these games and get out of it what they need - which is to be ready for first team action. You can see from the sessions like on Thursday, when they’re all back together again, that they’re ready to compete.

GA: They’re certainly closer, whether they’re close enough to start I still need to judge based on the medical staff and sports science guys’ assessments. I was pleased with what they did on Monday physically and it’s whether we feel they can contribute on Saturday to win a game of football.

GA: Lee Novak is still out. Luke Williams will hopefully start training fully again on Monday. He’s taken part in a couple of sessions over the last couple of days. Marnick Vermijl has taken part in a couple of the sessions too. We’re slowly getting players back, which is important for us at this stage of the season. It’s always important to have choices as a manager and for players to see they have genuine competition for places in the team.

GA: For me, more than any other time, it’s about what we do and concentrating on the aspects we need to do to win games of football. We’ve spoken about that this week. We’ve shown the players a lot of stuff that would quite surprise them I think in terms of what we’ve done over the last 12-15 games, for example the chances we’ve created, how we’ve defended and not given away many chances. These are independent stats from a company outside the EFL which were sent to us a few days ago. It shows in the last six home games, which we haven’t won, we’ve actually created more chances than in ones that we have won, and we’ve conceded less chances against us than in the ones we’ve won. There’s a lot of good stuff up to a certain point. We have to be more clinical. We’ve been on the harsh end of a few things recently but only we can get out of it and break that barrier down to go and win games. We certainly have the quality, the motivation and the ideas how to do it.

GA: We must continue to work hard from box-to-box, and tidy up our work in both boxes. We have to focus our minds on what we need to do to improve, but without the need to change everything. If we think we have to reinvent our whole game, it’s a long way to do that. What we have to do is improve the final 10 per cent at both ends. I know professional football is about results and sometimes a judgement on your performance can be as black and white as that - you win and you’re great, you lose and you’re rubbish - that’s it. It’s not been like that, we’ve drawn and lost games where we haven’t been rubbish. Last week was a case in point, nobody could have argued if we were 2-0 or 3-0 up at half-time. We weren’t obviously and we’ve played a part in our downfall in the goals we’ve conceded.

GA: They’ve been a good team for a few years now. They’re obviously in a position that’s precarious for them, but they still have some very good players in their ranks and a very good manager leading them. Their motivation for winning the points is the same as everyone else. We have to continue to focus on what we do well and keep reproducing those performances because we know the results will come from that. We’re still a good team and we’re still here competing for what we ultimately want to achieve.

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