City Director of Football looks ahead to festive fixturesEXETER CITY Director of Football Steve Perryman has paid tribute to former City player Liam Sercombe as the Grecians prepare to travel to the midfielder's new club Oxford United on Boxing Day.
Following defeat at home to Luton Town on Saturday, the Grecians are now looking to kick on with the festive schedule, and Steve targeted points against the sides surrounding City in the League 2 table.
"There were a lot of positives to come out of the Luton defeat, from Tom Nichols' free-kick to the bravery of Alex Nicholls' header," Steve said. "The stadium was rocking against Luton, and it was so good to see the crowd and the team in unison like they were, and that is great for us all going into the Christmas period. It would have been great for us to be talking about a Luton win, but sadly that wasn't to be, though just the fact that we recovered from two goals down, there was not one ounce of negativity in that ground. We were all on the same page, believing that we could go on and get something out of that game. We came just about ten seconds short of achieving that.
"There aren't a lot of points separating the teams in mid-table, who all have aspirations of pushing on for the play-offs, and we've got to take points off all of them. Oxford United is the place we start that on Boxing Day, and while we look to get the points, we have to pull the other teams back a bit and prevent them from pulling away.
"I really do trust us away from home - it was a real shame that the Morecambe game was called off, but Oxford gives us a chance to show that we're a good away team, and to start along the road to another positive run."
"We've got some injury doubts, of course, hence the selections of late, but every day brings either a new problem or a surprise that someone is a lot better than we thought they would be. I can't give definites on who will be in or out at this stage, but what is for sure is that we will pick the best eleven that we possibly can.
"Oxford on Boxing Day will be followed very quickly by a home match two days later against AFC Wimbledon, and for fear of piling up the injuries, we must be careful about who we select. The one thing that Tis has shown in his selections of late is that he doesn't get fazed about the injuries that he has to deal with; he makes the best of what he has available to him. The players will all want to get themselves fit and put themselves in the frame for the Liverpool game in a few weeks, and these next games are key to them doing that.
"Ryan Harley will miss Oxford and Wimbledon, and may even still be a doubt by the time the Liverpool game comes along. There are a few who are very near to being fit, so that can only boost us, but it's very positive to have such a competitive squad."
Boxing Day sees a first reunion between City and former midfielder Liam Sercombe, who left St James Park for the Kassam Stadium last summer. Liam his hit the ground running with the U's, scoring eight goals in League 2 for the club so far this season.
"Liam is a good young man, and a good Exeter man," Steve said. "He had his heart in the club, and as much as I was disappointed to see him leave, I was pleased for his career. Coming from Devon, he needed a new look at life and on the game. I think it has made him a more rounded player and person to go and sample something new. I do believe that one day he will return to Exeter - I sincerely hope so, anyway. He had too many injuries while he was here, and for the power and creativity he possesses, I think he's only now getting the goals he's capable of this season.
"He's a very good player and we're going to have to watch out for him - this game will have special meaning for him. We wish him well - other than on Boxing Day - and look forward to seeing him again."