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McCall looks ahead to Oxford encounter

2 November 2018

Manager Stuart McCall has been looking ahead to Saturday’s home game against Oxford United with the media.

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3 November 2018

Looking to bounce back from the home loss against Plymouth, the boss explained how the week has gone in training and also provided further thoughts having watched that game back again.

He told iFollow Iron: “We sat down on Tuesday and watched the game with the lads, with an eye on how we’re going to be on Saturday. 

“It’s a case of looking forward and learning from the negatives, if we can, of what we’ve done wrong, which I think last Saturday was in both penalty boxes. We had more opportunities and clear-cut chances than we did against Charlton when we won 5-3, but only scored one goal. But there’s no getting away from the fact that we’re conceding far too many goals.

“Whether we have to tweak the system and the way we go about it, we’ll see. Especially at home, we’ve got a duty to try and entertain the supporters that come. That said, when you’re on a run like we are, you need results and what puts a smile on the fans’ faces at 5pm on a Saturday is a winning team. To get the goals and entertainment level, you need to attack and create the chances. 

“You have to be flexible though and as a manager you can’t say ‘we’ll play this way or that way’ because we’ll get caught out. Having said that, the goals we’ve lost of late have come from individual errors and, last Saturday, their first two were through two corner kicks. It doesn’t matter what system you play, whether you have six at the back or whatever it may be, if you’re getting done on two corners (it has no impact) – the first one was a second ball coming in that we didn’t deal with, while the second was a clear header when we didn’t pick our man up.

“There are things to work on and have to improve, because defensively we have the joint worst record in the EFL, which isn’t good enough, but we don’t want to take our attacking intent away.

“Looking back at Saturday, we had three absolutely unbelievable chances that we’ve missed. Their goalkeeper made three outstanding saves and the offside decision was a poor one, having looked back at it. If that goes in, it’s 2-2 five minutes into the second-half and we’d certainly have been in the ascendency. We didn’t, and we’ve got to learn from it, and hopefully put in a plan of action on Saturday that gets us the win.”

McCall was hopeful Funso Ojo (hamstring) and Matthew Lund (knee) would be edging closer to a return this week, but he admits that’s unlikely now.

Meanwhile, there are doubts over Stephen Humphrys, who came off last week with a hamstring injury, and Lee Novak, who picked up a late knock against Plymouth.

He added: “Funso has tried to join in training this week and getting to 75 per cent level has been no problem, but he needs to get beyond that, and Lundy has been looking okay but he’s taken another setback on Thursday. Last week, we didn’t expect any of them to be in contention for Saturday and I definitely think that will be the case again.

“Stephen trained a little bit today but not at full throttle because it’s a hamstring injury, so he’s doubtful. We’ll have to see over the next day or so. Novs picked up a knock right at the end of the game. We were hopeful about him but he’s not trained as of yet so it’s a case where we’ll have to wait and see. He showed his experience and leadership qualities when he came on and he’s a key member of the side that we need in it.

“It was nice to see Josh (Morris) in this morning (who has been out with a broken jaw) but he’s not been back eating solid food for long. He’s been eating porridge and soup for the last few weeks and been in a lot of pain. It would have been better had it been his cheekbone rather than jaw, because he’s been struggling to sleep, but it was good to see him back in because he’s lost a few pounds.” 

McCall expects a tough test against an Oxford side for whom results have picked up in recent weeks, and who now see themselves five games unbeaten.

The boss said: “I saw their opening game of the season at Barnsley when they were defeated 4-0. Karl (Robinson) brought in some really good players over the summer, and they’ve got a good squad. They didn’t have the best start, but they’ve changed their system to try and shore up because they were conceding too many goals and it’s worked for them. That’s something we have to look at as well. You can’t be naïve to think this is how we play and we’ll always stick by our principles. You still have the work ethic and how you want to play the game, but you might have to tinker with certain things until you get a result that starts us picking up again.

“Oxford have done that and they’re unbeaten in five now. They come here in good form, but there’s such a fine line and there’s not a lot between us turning it around. We know we’re without some key experienced players but it gives a chance for everyone to muck in on Saturday and really put in a strong performance.”

See much more from Stuart McCall, Ike Ugbo and Charlie Goode on iFollow Iron. Click here to sign-up.

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