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Cox updates on Taft and others ahead of Salford away

4 March 2021

First team manager Neil Cox has provided an update on injuries and previewed the trip to take on Salford City this weekend.

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6 March 2021

Centre-back George Taft came off in the early stages of last weekend's home match against Cheltenham Town with an ankle injury and has been ruled out for two months following a scan earlier in the week.

Cox told iFollow Iron: "It's looking like he'll be out for the rest of the season, which is a shame because he's been a good signing for us. He's naturally disappointed, and so are we, because he'll miss a couple of months. He's settled in really well but it's not a major injury that needs operating on thankfully."

Defender Jacob Bedeau came off towards the end of the midweek victory at then-league leaders Cambridge United, but Cox was pleased to report it wasn't an injury as first feared.

He added: "JB's was cramp really, which he's a bit embarrassed about, but when he got it he couldn't get rid of it, and we've all experienced it at some stage. He tried to carry on but the cramp wasn't going away and coming off was the right thing to do. He's trained on Thursday morning, and was on the receiving end of a lot of banter from the lads about only being able to train half a session because he might get cramp again, but it's good because the squad's in good spirits and we're in a good place at the moment."

Cox continued: "Dev (Green, who came off during the closing stages too) ran his socks off and was feeling a little bit stiff, and it was more fatigue than a muscle injury. He's another we have to be careful with as he's just played a lot of games in a row, which he's not done since he's been at this football club, at a high tempo. So we just have to be careful with everyone."

Forward Ryan Loft missed the midweek game at the Abbey Stadium with a hamstring problem and has been rated touch and go ahead of the weekend. Centre-back Emmanuel Onariase also missed out with a groin issue and has been ruled out for a fortnight.

"Lofty has trained today but it's 50-50 whether he'll be available," said Cox. "Manny could be out for around two weeks, he's seen a specialist and might need an injection, so we'll just wait and see how he feels. We have Harrison (McGahey) and JB as our only centre-halves at the moment, but Jordan (Clarke) was excellent when he moved into there on Tuesday night and we know Jai Rowe can play there too."

Full-back Teddy Howe, who signed on loan from Blackpool on January transfer deadline day, is another option across the backline.

Cox continued: "Teddy Howe has been so unlucky. He was going to be involved in the first game (after he signed, at home to Oldham) and then we had three weeks off (due to postponements and an abandonment), and in that time Jordan got himself fit while Jai has kicked on in training and been excellent when he's played. Teddy felt his hamstring the other week, so we had to be careful with him. We'll keep pushing him forward and training him hard, getting him ready to play."

Talking about the squad as a whole, he said: "I spoke to all the players this morning and told them to be ready to play. We have one or two knocks so have to be careful.

"We have picked up a couple of injuries with Taft and Lofty being out, and now we just have bangs and bruises, and a couple of sore muscles that we need to be really careful with. We'll assess everyone on Friday morning, have a chat with the medical team and take on board the opinions because we're obviously going Saturday-Tuesday for the rest of the month and can't afford any muscle pulls at this time of the season. We need to be fresh, we have a big enough squad and I can bring other people in to play."

Looking ahead to the match at Salford on Saturday, which will see his side aiming for a sixth win in eight games, and a third away victory out of four, he said: "It will be a tough test away to Salford, who are a really good footballing side and probably one of the favourites to get promoted this year. We're full of confidence after a great win away at Cambridge and are raring to go really, wanting to get another game in.

"We were unfortunate to lose against them in January in the end (with Ian Henderson netting a late winner), with a little mistake at the back. We created enough on the night in an entertaining game and we worked so hard, putting them under pressure, while they did to us too.

"They're a club that expect to be up at the top end, but we've been on a good run of form, winning five out of our last seven. We'll go there with confidence.

We go there to try and win the game, and we know we'll need to defend well but we have to be better on the ball. In the last couple of games we've not been good enough in possession.

"Defensively we were alright after the first 20 minutes at Cambridge but we gave the ball away way too easily in the midfield and attacking positions. We have to keep the ball better as a team and give the defenders a chance to get their breath back. They need to pass the ball forward with better quality, while the attackers need to be better in possession."

See much more from Neil Cox on iFollow Iron. Click here to get your match pass ahead of the away game at Salford City.

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