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Interviews

Manager Hill looks ahead to Hartlepool home encounter

28 April 2022

First team manager Keith Hill has previewed the Iron's home game against Hartlepool United this Saturday.

After a tough season, Scunthorpe round off their home fixtures for the 2021-22 campaign with the visit of the Pools this weekend.

They come into the match on the back of a 1-1 home draw with Stevenage and a 2-1 loss at Bradford City last Saturday, which saw his side concede twice in the opening five minutes.

Hill told iFollow Iron: "We can take a lot of encouragement from last weekend, when you consider the score after five minutes. We found it difficult to absorb the type of early pressure that you should expect in front of 15,000 home supporters and against Bradford, but I thought we salvaged a lot from the game.

"Obviously we got the goal and our young players were very courageous and can be encouraged. I believe they've learned a lot, but they have to put their learnings into action.

"At this time of season, it's very difficult to train, train, train. Our fate has already been sealed, and we want to keep the boys bubbly and motivated when they come in. Yes, they should be motivated and happy to have such a great job? But ultimately it's been a really long, taxing season mentally and physically. At this time of the season it's about preparing the players for games. We have a good, young group and are working on the basics every day, so we don't have to continue reminding players when it comes to pre-season.

"Our young players are learning from this season, and as bad as it's been at times it's been a great opportunity for them.

"What we can't do at the minute is 'profile' players. The next time they play against certain players, they will be able to profile them and work on their last experience from that player, type of player or team. This is where you want quick learners and the players to educate themselves. It's not always about the coach, it's about the game itself, the opposition, team-mates and surrounding yourself with good people, being motivated to improve and seize the opportunity, because the football clock soon runs out and before you know it your career is over.

"We're trying to lead the players on a good path forward where they can learn, embrace it, then be competitive and winners."

Hill is hopeful of a good turn-out of home supporters for the match, which should see around 2,000 away fans make the trip from the north east.

He added: "The supporters have been magnificent in what's been a really, really difficult season. I've got to thank the supporters on behalf of the players and football staff for the courage they've shown in supporting us away from home and at home. It's been incredible really and we want to pay them back.

"What we don't want to see though is the type of scenes that happened at Oldham last week, where the ramifications are not about the group of supporters running onto the pitch but the sanctions imposed on Oldham. We've already had so many sanctions this season with respect to the embargo, and not being able to trade like other clubs have been able to in the summer and January.

"What we don't want to see is supporters invading the pitch, because the ramifications on the football club will lay heavily financially. I hope the supporters can see common sense and realise the future will be bright. We need them 100 per cent and I'd encourage as many supporters as we possibly can to support this young group as we play Hartlepool on Saturday."

In terms of whether there may be changes to the team at the weekend, he added: "We have to abide by the rules and regulations of fit and proper squad selection, but with respect to changes we've integrated it over a period of weeks where we're playing as many homegrown players as we possibly can. Harvey Cribb's had an injury but hopefully he'll be fit for the weekend.

"In these next two games, I'm looking for some insight or a potential little look at what could transpire in the future. I'd encourage as many supporters to turn up as we possibly can, because the players do thrive on the fans' support."

Work is well underway on preparing for next season, and Hill finished: "We have a lot of options and what you don't want to do is make the wrong decision. You've got to back your judgement. There's a certain type of player and personality that I want, with respect to experience, hunger, desire, determination and footballing ability. I need players who are prepared to 'buy in' for not just one game, two games, three games but for a full campaign. We've got plenty to work with and digest, and plenty of time to make sure we get the right players."

See much more from Keith Hill and Mason O'Malley on iFollow Iron.


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