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Interviews

Hill updates as Iron prepare to host Rochdale

17 February 2022

First team manager Keith Hill spoke to iFollow Iron ahead of this Saturday's meeting with his former club Rochdale.

The gaffer started by talking about the prospect of playing his old team, saying: “It’s just another game. What happened at Rochdale with myself, at that period of time, was very exciting and successful. I’m working for Scunthorpe now though and all my thoughts are with Scunthorpe irrespective of the opponents. 

“I’ve faced them with a couple of clubs (including Bolton Wanderers two seasons ago). When I went to Barnsley I faced them in the League Cup. It’s a football club that I know very well, but I’ve had my time and my place in their history and I’ve moved on.” 

On following up the win in the last home game against Walsall, he said: “The pressures aren’t any different to if you were top of the league, and playing Rochdale, or bottom of the league. The pressures are similar even though emotionally we get fixated on the league position. I just think it’s a good opportunity irrespective of the opposition for the team to start growing.

“There were some very good aspects of the way we played against Swindon (last weekend), and we want to continue with those positives but must make sure we cut out the silly mistakes. The mistakes for me are concentration ones. Sometimes you get horrific footballing mistakes that lead to a goal, but I think ours are down to a lack of patience and concentration. That’s where we have to be better and that’s where we have to control the opponent in and out of possession.

“There were a lot of good things for me to take out of last week's game, but what we all get emotionally drawn to is the scoreline. For me, it was never a 3-0 scoreline. If you look at the goals we conceded they were poor in the general way that we played. However, you are susceptible when you’re in possession and that’s where we have to be more defence-minded. We have to make sure we’re concentrating when we’re in and out of possession and hopefully we will be this weekend."

On how the team has prepared, the boss said: “We’ve had a lot of rest and recovery, which was needed. January was a window where we had a number of players leave and a number come in. The players that came in are catching up to speed and a lot of them haven’t played a lot of minutes but are getting a lot of minutes now. We’re looking for progress and that’s what I’m seeking as a manager. I’m looking for individual progress and team progress over a period of time and a period of games.” 

Updating on left-backs Lewis Thompson and Mason O'Malley (both hamstring) returning to training, he said: “Thompson and O’Malley are getting better. They’re getting minutes on the training pitch. It wasn’t forced for me to put Thompson on the bench last week but it was a last minute call. Hopefully he will be better for a week's training."

The game also sees on-loan midfielder Hayden Hackney return to contention following a six-game suspension, with Hill adding: It’s been a long time when you consider the last time he played for us was against Exeter (on January 15th). We’ve had to be patient with that one and hopefully his lesson is learnt and we can benefit from the situation as Hayden Hackney is a good player for us.

“We have lost Tom Pugh subsequently to a suspension, which has now turned into an injury because of the impact of the challenge (from Walsall's Hayden White). This is a double blow for me because we lost him for one game due to his second yellow for a challenge that the opponents made. We didn’t get any protection and as a consequence it’s a double negative as he was missing for the game at the weekend, but unfortunately from Tom’s perspective he’s going to be missing for the remainder of the season.” 

Hill then went on to explain Pugh’s injury: “He’s damaged his knee, he’s seen the specialist and is due for an operation at some point this week. It’s very unfortunate for Tom and he has an unbelievable attitude, superb character and personality. I really do feel sorry for him as he certainly was 100 per cent all in. So I’m disappointed and I was disappointed at the time with the manner of which he was accused of committing a second bookable offence. Whereas the challenge for me was obvious that the opposing player had gone very high and very late.

“It is a disappointment from every perspective as he is a young player making his way in the game. He's bought into the way I want to do things, and it’s just unfortunate. Again it’s the situation that we’re in.”

See much more from Keith Hill and Ross Millen on iFollow Iron.


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