Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says he has no fresh injury concerns as the Grecians go into their match with Cambridge United at St James Park.
City will be looking to get back to winning ways following a defeat to Newport County AFC last time out, but they welcome an in form United side who will be looking to record their fourth consecutive win.
On the injury front, Matt said: “We’ve got no fresh ones (injuries), some of the bodies were a little bit sore from a difficult pitch and a physical game (v Newport) but we’re relatively unscathed. We still have the long terms absentees, but I was pleased to get through the game physically.”
New recruits Jaden Brown and Randell Williams could also be in line to feature for the Grecians following their first week at the club, and they both played against Nottingham Forest under-23s in the defeat on Monday night.
Matt continued: “Monday night was a difficult game, we wanted Randell to get some game time and he was still able to train on Tuesday off the back of playing half a game on Monday and Jaden got some good minutes under his belt.
“The more minutes they get, the more idea and mindset they get towards our systems and the way we play then we’ll see the benefit come the weekends. The more time they spend with us the more they settle in, Monday was a difficult night for all involved but valuable in certain ways as well.”
On Saturday’s opponents, Matt is expecting a difficult battle at St James Park as they come up against a side who will be looking to climb further up the Sky Bet League Two table.
He continued: “A new manager has come in and taken over and they’ve hit a bit of form recently. They’re a very good attacking team and they have scored a lot of goals in the last few weeks and they’re coming off the back of an exciting game against Northampton Town last weekend.
“We’ve got to be at our best if we want to get anything out of the game. After the game last weekend, I was pleased with the attitude, mindset and how we went about the game in terms of the performance, but we need to add a little bit of quality in front of the opposition goal. We’re mindful of that going into this weekend. It’s good game for us, it’s all to play for, it’s tight in the top eight or nine positions in the league and it’s going to be a severe test, but one we’re more than good enough for if we prepare right.”
With the likes of MK Dons, Carlisle United and Bury to come for the Grecians in the coming weeks they could further their chances in the top positions if they come through that period positively, but the City boss was clear in stating that Cambridge is the only focus for him and his players.
Matt said: “You want to win every game, but we will take every one as it comes and we’re not looking ahead of Cambridge, that’s first and foremost in our minds. It has to be in terms of our preparations, Thursday and Friday are important days to get into the patterns of play that we want to create for the weekend, and I feel we’ve done that today. We’ll look after them a bit physically because they’ve got to hit the ground running. It will be a physical game, it will require a lot of energy and we need that little bit of quality in certain areas as well.”
Matt was also full of praise for left back Craig Woodman who made his 250th Exeter City appearance last weekend against Newport, an achievement which is testament to his professionalism according to the City manager.
“Full credit to him, it’s testament to the way he looks after himself and the way he trains and conducts himself,” explained Matt. “He’s a reliable player, a player that any manager at this club has been able to trust, you always know what you’re going to get out of him. Age is just a number for him and hopefully he can keep going for as long as possible and keep influencing the group the right way as well, certainly from a manager or coaches’ point of view.
“You want your experienced players to influence the group in a positive manner, plus just dropping in little things in coaching too, he’s doing that with our under-23s and the ladies’ side. He knows where he wants to get to but, like I’ve mentioned, he’s concentrating on Cambridge this weekend.
“It’s part of the balance in any team, but the players are there on merit. The younger players in the squad deserve to be there and deserve to play. Players like Dara (O’Shea) and Archie (Collins) have earned their opportunity and are taking it at the moment but they’ve got to concentrate on their own performances and then you get your place in the team. People talk about young players and experienced players, but it’s based on performance and then it’s up to me as manager to select the right players to play.”
Despite already bringing in four new signings this January, Matt also didn’t rule out the chance of another new face coming through the door at St James Park, but only if they can improve the current squad.
He said: “There could well be movements in and out, I know what I’m looking for and it’s a case of waiting for the right personnel to become available. Players could well go out of the door in terms of loan moves.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, March 2 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.