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Cox updates on Hallam and more as Iron prepare for Southend

19 March 2021

First team manager Neil Cox has provided an update on injuries and previewed Saturday's home League Two encounter against Southend United (3pm kick-off).

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20 March 2021

Buoyed by a stoppage time equaliser against Oldham Athletic in midweek, to claim a point which was the least they deserved from the game, Cox has spoken about how the team have got ready for the visit of the Shrimpers.

He said: "The preparations have gone really well. We rested them on Thursday so we've got them in on Friday and trained, and there was a lot of brightness, sharpness and laughs on the training ground. We're looking forward to another challenge. It's a home game and we'll be looking to try and get the three points.

"The nature of scoring late on always helps. If you look back at the Oldham game, I felt we did really well in the match, playing against one of the top-scoring teams in the division. We restricted their chances and had enough of our own to win the game, but showed a lot of fighting spirit and desire to get something out of it late on.

"Training has been difficult (in recent weeks, with this coming one being the fifth Saturday-Tuesday run of games in succession) because we can only so small amounts. A lot of the players have to rest their bodies because of knocks, so it's about getting them in, putting a smile on our faces and having a little bit of enjoyment while going through the tactics for the games. We will come in tomorrow, go hard again and look to get the three points."

Cox knows Southend will come to the Sands Venue Stadium fighting for survival. They presently sit in the bottom two of the division and five points adrift of safety, 11 behind the Iron.

They defeated Scunthorpe 1-0 at Roots Hall with a late goal in December, and Cox said: "I was disappointed with the result down there earlier in the season, when we were beaten 1-0 and there was nothing in the game - one mistake cost us. They might set up in a couple of different ways but it's all about what we do, and creating lot of chances while also defending well and having our midfield players picking up loads of second balls."

The boss also provided an update on injuries, starting with Tuesday night's goalscoring hero Jordan Hallam, who picked up a hamstring injury in the closing stages.

He explained: "With Jordan, we're just waiting for the full specialist's report but he looks like he'll be out for a little while. It's a shame for the boy as he's worked really hard and this isn't because of biomechanics but more because we haven't been able to get him in the gym enough with the Covid-19 situation. With a bit of a break, he'll be able to start going in the gym again and that will be another massive bonus for the boy.

"I've given him minutes and we've tried to look after him, while his stats in training have been excellent and he's trained in every session, working hard and doing extra, but he's just not been able to get in the gym and do the proper leg weights that he needs to keep strong around that area. He's a good finisher as we know, and hopefully we do get to see him again this season."

Jem Karacan came off in the first-half of the midweek match as a precaution, and Cox said: "We're having a look at Jem, who just caught his knee a little bit. He's managed to do some training today so we'll just have to see if anything happens before we make a decision tomorrow.

"There are many knocks (amongst the whole squad) and we're getting to the time where boys are just getting strapped up and going out there. The games are taking their toll and going like we did for 95 minutes the other night, and keeping pushing to try and win the game, means there were some tired boys, but we'll be ready for a big game on Saturday and will try to take the points."

Central defender Emmanuel Onariase has been out of action for the last three weeks with a groin issue, but has returned to training this week. However, the match against Southend may come too soon.

Cox said: "Manny is fine. He trained today so it was good to see him on the training ground. It's a big decision whether to include him in the 18 or not, so we'll have a look at the situation and could maybe leave him a little bit longer."

There was positive news regarding George Taft, who came off injured against Cheltenham Town three weeks ago and for whom it previously looked like his season may be over.

The boss said: "Taft has been on the training ground today, running around but not joining in just yet. He looks really good and the physios have worked really hard with him. It's good to see him back as he's a good character."

On whether he could return before the campaign comes to an end on May 8th with a home game against Stevenage, he finished: "The way he ran around this morning, he could. We'll have a chat with the medical department on what we think is right but we're just focused on getting three points on Saturday before anything else."

See much more from Neil Cox on iFollow Iron. Click here to get your Iron v Southend United match pass.

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