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Wilcox ready for big occasion

5 March 2020

Russ Wilcox is looking forward to the home derby clash against local rivals Grimsby Town on Saturday, as United take them on in the league at the Sands Venue Stadium for the first time in 16 years.

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Wilcox told iFollow Iron: “I’ve obviously been involved in games like this as a player, assistant manager and manager, and I’m excited. It’s going to be a full house, and the message to the fans is to come and enjoy it, support your team but behave yourself as well. We want the game to be remembered as a good footballing occasion, and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s the biggest game of the season and when the fixtures come out, they’re the ones Scunthorpe and Grimsby fans look out for and plan around. It’s a big occasion.

“It’s been a long time since the last one (in 2004, when United won 2-0). A similar result would be nice. It’ll be a great occasion for the fans. It’s our home game and we need the supporters right behind us from the start. It’s been a difficult season but they’ve stuck with us and hopefully we can reward them with victory against our local rivals.”

He added: “It’s a good occasion, especially when you win. I think this occasion is about the result. I don’t think we played that well away at Grimsby in December but we ground out a magnificent 1-0 win against our local rivals. We have to make sure we get the tactics and team selection right.

“I’d think the first 10-15 minutes will be fiery to say the least, so we have to be disciplined in our play, and make sure we keep 11 players on the pitch.

“If you go through the history books, there haven’t been many high-scoring ones. They tend to be tight games, and it’s about who makes the least mistakes in both boxes - who’s clinical and doesn’t give chances away usually wins the games.”

Scunthorpe face the Mariners four days after their trip to take on league leaders Swindon, which saw a youthful side take to the field and battle hard before eventually succumbing to two Eoin Doyle goals.

Speaking about how the players are after, Wilcox continued: “They’re in good spirits. It’s always disappointing to lose but there are lots of positives to take from the game moving forward - not short-term but long-term in terms of the introduction of the younger players, which is key to us as a football club moving forward.

“I’m delighted for Jai (Rowe) and Tom (Pugh, who made their Iron debuts) and hopefully we can look at a few more Under-23s in the first team between now and the end of the season. We have to look at them and see what they can do, and if they can step up to the plate. The two lads on Tuesday did.”

Abo Eisa and Kevin van Veen missed out in midweek through hamstring and groin injuries sustained against Port Vale, and a late decision will be made on them ahead of the Mariners match.

“They’re progressing,” he continued. It’s going to be a touch and go decision on them. I certainly won’t be naming the team until Saturday because sometimes with the way social media is the team can get out earlier, but we’ll keep our cards close to our chests, and give the two players every opportunity to be fit.”

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