Grecians boss looks ahead to Crawley clashEXETER CITY MANAGER Paul Tisdale has revealed that Manny Oyeleke will miss out this weekend's Sky Bet League 2 match at St James Park against Crawley Town, while David Wheeler is an injury doubt.
The Grecians are in positive spirits this week after the Emirates FA Cup success at Didcot Town last weekend, and are looking to overcome a Crawley side that have won five or their past seven games in the league.
"It's unusual for recent years, and we're delighted with the home draw," Paul said. "We're in the Second Round, and that home draw gives us an opportunity to progress. It certainly is a rarity, and we're pleased that we've got it. Port Vale and Maidenhead will each bring a different challenge, and of course on paper you'd like to avoid the League club. As we've seen already, though, things don't always go to plan, and I'm just happy we're there and we have a home draw. I'll be positive in terms of the chances we have of going through with either game; that's the way it should be.
"The Didcot result can't harm us, as though they may have been non-league, winning is certainly better than losing. Compare this to how we felt the week following the Warrington game last year, and it's chalk and cheese. We have a spring in our step going forward - maybe this is our year."
With the attention turning back to the league, the City boss gave his view on the Grecians' position in the League 2 table.
"I'm not unhappy with where we are in the table," he said, "but I would have expected and hoped to be a little higher than we are. I'm not overly worried about it, because I think that we've got the capability to rise out of that pack and into the play-off hunt at the very least. There's plenty of time to do it, but we have to do it at some point. We've frittered away one or two points from good positions this year, and especially over the last couple of months, but I think our performances will warrant a rise into the top third. Plenty of clubs will be saying the same things as us, so it'll be down to what we do."
Home form for City has been good so far this season, but the Grecians' results away from St James Park have left a little to be desired.
"It's been like a Rubik's Cube," Paul said. "You change one side, and the other part changes. There have been a lot of alterations to the way we play to try to improve our home form, which was much-needed, and as a result it might have just taken the edge off our away form. We have plenty of time to respond to the slump in our away form, but it's a lot easier said than done. It's obviously relevant, it's plain to see - we've been a better home team than we are away, when in the last three or so years we've been better away. It's frustrating, but we've got the confidence and we know what we have to do."
Crawley under manager Mark Yates, like the Grecians, aren't where they want to be in the league standings, with the Red Devils having come down from League 1 last season.
"You look at their last half-dozen or so games - they've won five of their last seven in the league, so they've certainly been on the up," Paul said. "Any team that's in-form in a league like ours needs to be viewed with a degree of caution. Mark Yates, their manager, knows the league well and he's got some tried and tested players who now have some sort of rhythm to their game. We'll have to be on our toes.
"Christy has had an operation on his finger, and he's got some pins in there. He's going to be out for around three months, so that's disappointing for him. He had only just recovered from an injury of three or four weeks when he came back and did it, so it's been a really frustrating year for him so far. He just has to keep himself fit off the pitch, and then hopefully he'll return well. As a professional footballer, you will sometimes pick up these kinds of injuries. He picked it up in just a routine bit of training, where he caught the ball in an awkward position and damaged it, but that's the price you pay as a goalkeeper sometimes.
"Otherwise, we've got some players back and some others injured. Craig Woodman, Christian Ribeiro and Lee Holmes have all returned to full-time training. Where they will be selectable or not is all down to how well they train and how fit they are, but they are all available for Saturday. Manny Oyeleke is injured again after hurting his knee in his comeback at Didcot last week, so that's a shame, while Matt Oakley is probably a week away from being available. Danny Butterfield is back in training, though he has had stitches in his ankle following the injury he suffered at Barnet. He's back in the competition for the midfield slot, so it's generally good news on the whole. The only fresh injury doubt is perhaps David Wheeler this week - he's not trained, and we're hoping to get to Saturday and find out whether he's fit."
"Each squad comes with a new set of challenges. My job is to get things moving and to get us effective. If you have a good squad and a good number of players who are all competent to do the job correctly, then a larger squad is an insurance policy for recovering when you have the spates of injuries that we've had in the past."