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Interviews

Tis: Everyone Fit For Friday

24 March 2016

Grecians boss looks ahead to Barnet match

EXETER CITY manager Paul Tisdale targeted a continuation of the Grecians’ impressive form ahead of Barnet’s visit to St James Park on Good Friday.

The Grecians are unbeaten in their last five in Sky Bet League 2, and are looking for home performances to match those on their travels, having won three on the bounce away from St James Park.

Now the Grecians are looking to kick on in the final nine games of the campaign, and they are one of many sides with a play-off place still a possibility.

“We are in that group,” Paul said. “It’s still a possibility, and we’re on the end of that list. We’re fourteenth, but there are only a couple of points between four or five teams, so with six points to play for this weekend, I think we’ll have a very good view of the world come Monday evening in terms of how we fit in the league table.  It’s still a possibility, and we’re playing with a focus on picking up every point we can to keep our run going.

“Never say never; we’re at the business end of the season, but we still have to go one game at a time. Let’s not rule anything out - we go to Crawley on Monday, but first we have to get through this game, and see where we are at the end of it.

“The home form has been the problem of late. We’ve been in good positions, so it’s not like we’ve been outplayed, other than the Oxford game where we were fairly poor, we’ve been in every game and we’ve been in good positions. You can’t spend too much time worrying about what’s happened in the past, you want to get on with it and we have opportunity in front of us now.”

Ollie Watkins has turned in some impressive performances for the Grecians in recent weeks, scoring three goals in the last four games. The City boss gave some insight into the process of bringing youngsters through at the club.

“Part of the brief of the manager of Exeter City is to develop the young players, and it’s about making those selections at the right time,” Paul said. “If you have a player with potential and throw him in come what may, there’s every chance that there will be sticking points. We’ve worked his development reasonably well this year; we have bought him in at the right. Ollie has got a lot to learn; he’s a young player that’s going to be a very good player one day. The better the team performance around him the easier it will be for him to focus on playing his part. He’s come in to the side as they have found some form, and he is playing his part in that. The development of any young player can sometimes be up and down, but Ollie is in good form at the moment and long may that continue. A lot of that has to do with being able to play alongside players who are established and know their job. He doesn’t have to deal with too many questions in his head.

“We go into the weekend with only a couple of minor injuries. Alex Nicholls will be coming back this weekend. We have everyone fit, so I see no reason to add any new players at this stage. I have been happy with the performances, and it hasn’t happened by chance. The continuity in the team has largely been born out of having the squad fit and available, and I have choices. It’s taken me six months to get back to the players that we had in the team at the start of the season, and circumstances have played a large part in that - injuries and the odd tactical change. But on the whole it’s been about being able to have everyone available at the same time; we’ve had large spells with David Wheeler being out for six weeks, Ryan Harley being out for three months, and so on. There have been lots of players out, but they all happen to be available now.”

Barnet visit St James Park this evening, and only one Sky Bet League 2 place separates the sides going into the game.

“There are five points between us, but there are lots of teams between us and the next five points,” Paul said. “We’ve got Barnet and Crawley who are both mid-table and both in a position where, like us, they could potentially look for the play-offs. We can’t consider any of those factors. They are good and efficient and they beat us at the Hive earlier in the year. We know they’re a difficult opponent, and the three points are important to us.”

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