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Hill previews Tranmere away and reacts to transfer business earlier this week

6 January 2022

First team manager Keith Hill has previewed the trip to take on Tranmere Rovers this Saturday, while also providing his thoughts on the club's transfer business earlier this week.

The match sees the United boss visit the club he was in charge of and guided to a play-off place last season, but he's played down his return to Prenton Park, saying: "It doesn't really (have extra bite as a game), though people would suggest that. I'm just looking forward to the match and pitting our wits against one of the form sides and a team chasing promotion.

"It will be good to meet up with some ex-colleagues and it always is in football as it's a small world. The challenge is there for everybody to see. We want to try and go there, perform well and win a football match. That's all we're preparing to do.

"They're a good side who have had good recruitment and are a powerful club in League Two. It's going to be a difficult challenge but one that we're up for."

The game sees the Iron looking to bounce back from a narrow home defeat to Carlisle, which saw a display where his side did everything but score.

Hill added: "It was frustrating because the performance from a football perspective in and out of possession was good. One minor mistake at a set-play cost us and that's unforgivable as it was a game that would always be decided by one goal because we're not putting the ball in the back of the net in the way we should do, and don't get enough bodies for me, even though we train it and I insist on it, into the box to score the goals. The aim is to create so much traffic for the opponent that they don't know what to do or who to mark.

"We had chances and (Carlisle goalkeeper) Mark Howard made a good save from Harry Bunn, while the same player had a header cleared off the line. Lofty (Ryan Loft) should also have done better with his chance, while in the second half we had half-chances and missed opportunities, where we should have shown more calmness and composure. From a possession, chances created and corner count point of view, I'm reasonably happy.

"We have to show more composure, more willingness to get into hard areas of the pitch and make sure we're concentrating all the time, because the manner in which we conceded stopped us getting a healthy point that would have taken us out of the bottom two, and which would have been psychologically important. We did it against Oldham with a magnificent second-half display, while the performance levels were better against Carlisle but the end result wasn't and that's what was frustrating to us all."

He continued: "The performance levels are getting better and we have to make sure that the way we're playing registers with more goals and we need players to take responsibility for that."

Hill also spoke about the transfer business on Tuesday which saw Ryan Loft leave to join Bristol Rovers for an undisclosed fee, with Hayden Hackney extending his loan stint at the club from Middlesbrough until the end of the season, as well as Blackburn Rovers forward Sam Burns joining on loan for the rest of the campaign.

The manager said: "It was a necessity of the football club that Ryan Loft left. He's out of contract at the end of the season. In an ideal world he stays at the club but it's not ideal, we're under an embargo and financially the position we're in meant it made good business sense to help protect the future of the football club.

"We have to protect the future of the team so we've recruited Sam Burns, with Hayden Hackney also extending his loan until the end of the season, which I'm really pleased about because a lot of good work has gone into him."

Speaking about how Burns has done so far this week, he said: "He's settling in and it's new to him. He's a confident young lad and has bags of energy and pace. He wants to run, which is very important to me, as well as learn and improve. Ultimately he wants to play as high up the football pyramid as he can."

Talking about the prospect of further additions, Hill continued: "Ultimately we have to improve our opportunities so we're still looking for more recruitment so we can drive this squad of players we have on to better things.

"We've been doing a lot of work prior to the window opening, but there's a layering system within football and unfortunately we're at the bottom of that system. The league position isn't very good and there are a lot of players waiting and looking around, who have other options, but we're doing everything we can to improve. We'll get the right players in to make sure we're stronger and that we survive in League Two.

"It's a difficult window. You can get it so wrong and it can really harm your impact on what you're trying to do, which is survive. We have a lot of work to do and it's really important that we must get the right players in and don't panic."

See much more from Keith Hill on iFollow Iron.

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