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Hill updates ahead of home encounter v Newport

20 January 2022

First team manager Keith Hill has spoken about this week's preparations for the League Two visit of Newport County to the Sands Venue Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

His side enter the game looking to pick up an important home win, in their first fixture at the Sands Venue Stadium for three weeks.

"We're into the latter part of the week now where we're really planning for the game," he told iFollow Iron. "I've been encouraged by the standard of training. We've integrated a number of youth team players, and I must say that they've done well, bringing a really good energy to training and I've been very impressed.

"Tuesday was a really good day for me because it was very competitive and the standard of football was very, very good. I think that was prompted by some young souls being on the training pitch, being fearless and showing intelligent energy.

"It's given me a really clear indication of what I want to do as we go forward. I know we're in January and there's an opportunity to recruit players, but Tuesday reminded me of the type of recruitment that I want to make, and what will make us better.

"I can't be desperate in my pursuit of players, and I can't make knee-jerk reactions or panic. I'd rather spend no money than stupid money so we've got to make important decisions.

"This is my window and where supporters, players and footballing staff should see the identity of how I want to play, with respect to the players I recruit.

"We're in a situation where the market doesn't favour a team like ourselves but we have to be patient. I don't want to make mistakes in the window where the club panics and I panic. The players we bring in have got to be a reflection of the way that I want to play the game.

"I'm trying to create a plan and football identity so that the club can be successful, and I'm talking about short-term, medium-term and long-term. There has to be a clear identity in the way I want to play and the players I want to recruit.

"We'd teed up a couple of options in particular but the players have chosen to go to other football clubs - one played last Saturday in League One and one played against us last Saturday. So we are trying to get players in and also players back from injury as quickly as we can, but we have to make sure they're back for the long-term.

"There is a DNA and a personality, and I won't settle for second or third best. I won't panic and I won't make knee-jerk reactions, and I nearly got to the stage on Friday where I was in panic mode because there is a necessity, but within that it creates opportunities for other players still at the club."

He added: "I plan meticulously but the reflection of any player that comes into the football club from now on should be a reflection of me and the way that I want to play and represent our supporters. That's where recruitment and retaining is really important for future success. Success is built on failure, but I can't repeat the mistakes that have led us into this situation.

"The week has helped and there's more clarity now to the way I'm thinking on recruitment because this is my recruitment and where I'm judged. These players become mine and it's important I get the recruitment right. I can't right the wrongs of previous windows and have to do the best I can for this football club at this moment in time, but I'm trying to create a football plan and identity for future successes."

Talking about how right-back Luke Matheson's done on his first full week at the club, having signed on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan on the eve of last weekend's match at Exeter City where he made his debut, Hill continued: "He's settled in well. He's got a good footballing personality and young energy. I have to thank Scott Sellars at Wolves for giving us the opportunity to recruit him, but we plan on utilising his youthful energy and giving a platform to establish himself again. He is a player who was sold for a large amount of money at a tender age (from Rochdale to Wolves). Sometimes you lose your way a little bit because Luke is a spontaneous, energetic football player who is always in a position at the right time, always willing to attack and defend. I'm pleased to have got him in. It was a signing of necessity through injuries, but it's a very good addition for the football club."

Providing an update on injuries, he stated: "We've got a substantial amount of injuries and it's something we have to deal with. Hayden Hackney has concussion though and won't be available, while we're just assessing the other players."

Finally, talking about the match against promotion-chasing Newport at the weekend, he concluded: "They're a very good opponent and it will be a difficult game. We're trying our very best to make sure we're good in all departments in and out of possession. We have to try and put it all together. It was a very difficult game last week with respect to retaining the ball and having passages of play. Prior to that, I think we've been pretty good in possession but last week we just didn't knit that together. For the amount of pressure we were under, I thought we defended reasonably well for 90 minutes but from a playing the football game point of view I felt that's where we were poor, so we've got to improve on that."

See much more from Keith Hill and Luke Matheson on iFollow Iron.

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