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Manager provides pre-match news and views ahead of Boxing Day

23 December 2020

First team manager Neil Cox is enjoying a rare full week on the training ground as United prepare for the Boxing Day home encounter against Mansfield Town (1pm kick-off).

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26 December 2020

Due to the season starting over a month later than usual, there has been a large volume of midweek fixtures so far this campaign which has meant a quick turnaround between matches for the Iron.

Cox said: "Training has been good. We did a lot of analysis work at first on the last game, but we're back into it now. We were on the training pitch on a Tuesday for the first time in a long time this week, as we've had a lot of midweek games. We got a lot of quality work into the boys out there, as well as hard work into some of them that have missed some minutes.

"It's excellent to have a full week. It's what we've needed. We've given some of the boys who had bumps and bruises a couple of days off to rest it, while the rest of them have been on the training ground working hard and getting ready for a busy Christmas schedule."

With the number of midweek first team fixtures calming down in the New Year, Cox is looking forward to helping develop the players at the club.

He said: "It will be good to have that chance to get on the training pitch and try to make the players better, especially the younger ones. It's been difficult this season for all clubs but we have 28 big games left and want to push up the league.

"I've been disappointed with the last four games. We haven't picked up enough points after being on a good run of form. We had to dig in sometimes, but lost, but we have 28 matches left and let's try and win every one, and see where we end up at the end of the season."

As previously mentioned, the players and coaching staff will be in on Christmas Day preparing for the encounter with the Stags.

Cox continued: "It's part and parcel of life as a footballer. You come in and get on with it. We play on Boxing Day so we're in, and we do all our work ahead of a difficult game on Saturday.

"We're working on what we need to do, how we're going to play, our set-plays and also aspects of what they do before getting off home and trying to enjoy the day as much as we can."

The boss also provided an update on the injuries to Harrison McGahey (hamstring) and Junior Brown (thigh), while he also had news about striker Ryan Loft.

He said: "Harrison has been on the training ground jogging but still isn't ready to join in fully. He will probably be back nearer the end of January now, but you never know.

"Junior has been on the training ground and joined in half a session, so he's well ahead of schedule which is good for us, but we have to make sure it's done properly as we don't want him to get injured again.

"Lofty is struggling with a sore ankle/shin and didn't train on Tuesday so we have to be careful with him and see what happens."

The Under-23s fixtures come thick and fast from next Wednesday when the Iron host their Huddersfield Town counterparts, and Cox said: "We have the Under-23s games scheduled in again from next week and that will really help in terms of getting people back to fitness, and also some of the boys who haven't played so much in the first team in recent weeks. We are looking at sending a couple out on loan to get some further experience."

Mansfield visit on Boxing Day for the second time this season, having defeated United 2-1 in the Papa John's Trophy group stages in November when both put mixed sides out.

Scunthorpe, who hadn't won at home since September until the start of this month, have won two of their last three home fixtures and Cox is looking to build on that as he seeks to make the Sands Venue Stadium a hard place for teams to come.

Cox said: "Nigel (Clough) won't change the way he plays and worry about what we do, and I will be the same. I'm not going to worry about them. It's what we do on the day and the way we set our stall out. We have to be aggressive in both boxes and do the right things. We need to make sure our set-plays are spot on, and put a battling performance in. When the ball is down there to be played on the pitch, we need to try and play some good football.

"I believe we've thrown points away in the last few weeks when we should have picked more up. We had a battling performance against Barrow where we didn't play very well, but managed to win the game. Sometimes we have to dig in and fight for the three points, and that's what we need to do.

"There is still no crowd, which is difficult, as it would have been a good crowd on Boxing Day and they would have brought a few fans as well, but we have to get on with it. We're getting ready for when the fans can come back in, and hopefully turning the corner and winning more home games can create a good situation for them to return to."

See much more from Neil Cox, Lewis Spence and Mason O'Malley on iFollow Iron. Click here to buy a £10 match pass for the Boxing Day game vs Mansfield Town.

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