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Interviews

Hill's Yeovil lookahead

3 August 2022

First team manager Keith Hill has spoken to Iron Player ahead of Saturday's National League season opener against Yeovil Town.

Reflecting on the six-weeks of pre-season and the recruitment to bring in eight players during the closed season, the boss said: "I think we've done a lot of really good work over the course of the summer, which started for us as soon as the last game of the season finished.

"I've been really encouraged by the players' commitment, the work we've done in the transfer window, recruitment, the work we've done on the training pitch, the new staff we've recruited and it's a really good environment.

"Everybody's bought into it and that's been one the key components of our recruitment. You go through the interview process with the players you bring in. First and foremost you identify the talent and what they can bring to the footballing jigsaw we're trying to solve and then it's about the personality. You want good team mates, good people and to be able to trust one another and build relationships. It's been evident over the six week period.

"Everything we've done has been in preparation for the Yeovil game and beyond. It's a 46 game season and we're very optimistic. I think we've been very thorough with our recruitment. There's a real balance to the squad, not just positionally but also in terms of age and experience, and we're trying to build a new future for the football club with a layering system of success. Ultimately we want to convey the success we've had on the training pitch into matches and it's now over to the players."

Seven players have come in during the last month particularly, and Hill continued: "I'm really happy with the patience, understanding and methodology that we stuck to. There can't be a panic in this window. It was a real opportunity to do the type of work, business and recruitment that I really really want to match in with my footballing plan for the club and future successes. It's the start of a new era and it was important we showed patience. There was a lot of bravery in first and foremost sticking to the plan, when we had the negativity of last season, and making sure that within our working budget we were making the right signings. They're good people and the right players for the matrix we're trying to create.

"Everyone will have different opinions on who you should sign here, there and everywhere, but there's a real identity, a real plan and all the players have committed to it."

The season opener will be shown live on BT Sport, kicking off at 5.20pm and Hill commented: "It adds that little bit of extra pressure to the players but they've got to thrive under pressure. We're trying to create success at this football club. We have an ambitious group of players, ambitious staff and want to do well to represent our supporters. They have been magnificent. There is a little bit of frustration at times and I understand that, but we're trying to build and in any building you have to make sure there's a structure and that there's a plan. You've got to make good decisions because you don't want to make wrong ones that you have to change, because we haven't got the resources to change at this moment in time."

On the game itself, he added: "The first game of every season is difficult to predict in terms of starting line-ups and style of play because that evolves over the course of the first ten games of the season where if we were playing them in ten games time I'd probably be able to predict style of play and personnel. There are certain unknowns but we're prepared in the knowledge we want to play a certain way. Our players are well versed in what we've done over the last six weeks and we're prepared for a very difficult first day encounter, but it should give us a real indication of what's to come in the next 45 games after this one."

Updating on injuries, Hill continued: "Colin Daniel and Kgosi Ntlhe should be there or thereabouts for Saturday. but with respect to the majority of the players we've had available from pre-season, we'll be selecting from the same pool, with the addition of Marcus Carver, which was a good signing for us on Tuesday.

"Jordan Hallam will be out for a significant amount of time. He has a recurrence of a long-standing hamstring problem that we're trying to get to the bottom of. He's been to see a specialist and it's obviously very concerning for him because it's the same injury. That problem has to be resolved and I don't think it has been appropriately. There's a major concern from his perspective that he can't sustain on the training pitch and get game time. We're going to have to go back to square one and start the rebuild on his hamstring."

See much more from Keith Hill and Liam Feeney on Iron Player.


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