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Kewell: "We’re looking forward to coming up against them"

10 November 2020

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The Head Coach spoke to iFollow Latics ahead of the final group fixture of the Papa John’s Trophy at Valley Parade.

Topping the group with a game to spare, Kewell is looking to use the fixture to his advantage and will be trying to keep the winning mentality going.

“We are in a fortunate position tonight and it’s in a competition where we've produced some great performances and got pleasing results in the first two. 

“Now it gives us a free shot to go out there and enjoy experimenting with some of our play, maybe trying a different formation or even using some different players in a competitive environment.

“But in saying that, I rested five or six people at the weekend, which they'll come in to get some game time to keep their fitness levels up.

“All footballers want to play, so we’ll be ready for the game at Bradford and we’re looking forward to coming up against them.”

He added: “It's important that you keep winning. We want to put out a strong side as you have to respect every competition and the opponent.

“So for us, we're going to take this game as a whole as a normal game and I expect the same kind of desire, concentration, discipline and work ethic that they've been doing over the previous games again tonight.”

With the fixture being at Valley Parade, the two teams will face off against each other in a few weeks again in the Emirates FA Cup, before playing each other for a third time in just over a month when they meet again in the league at Boundary Park.

And Kewell has thought about how each fixture will differ and why both teams won’t be complacent.

“We’ve spoken at length about it already about facing the same team a few times, but if you judge Bradford on tonight's game, or they judge us on tonight's game within a few weeks we're playing in the FA Cup and then again a couple weeks after that we play them again. 

“I mean, you may get a glimpse of what they could do, but I'm sure that the teams won't be the same. 

“In my view, I always take every game separate, and I concentrate on what I have to do in that game then I can focus on the next game. So for me, whatever formation or whoever they play this is not going to represent them in the FA Cup, and it certainly won't represent them in the league game. So for us, it's a test to maybe feel the environment because it is a fantastic stadium.

“We could probably get a kind of an idea on the changing room setup and all those kinds of factors that have an impact on your preparation away from the actual match.”

In terms of players at his disposal, Harry Clarke and Jordan Barnett will definitely miss out due to being cup tied and having a suspension respectively. Whilst it also gives some players a rest, it presents a golden opportunity for someone from the academy.

“I’m pleased to confirm someone will make their professional debut tonight, which is fantastic. He's been superb in training and it’ll be a good opportunity for him to have a taste of what it’s going to be like.

“Obviously we now have Diarra confirmed, so it’ll be a good opportunity for him as well as he's been training well over the last few weeks and it’ll be good to see him in a competitive game tonight with something on it.

“We also have Jombati back who will add experience and leadership and he needs game time to get back to full fitness.

“Losing Hamer at the weekend was unfortunate but it looks like he’ll be available as the tests came back negative.”

He continued: “Winning breeds a winning mentality. Everyone's happy, so again you want to go out there and perform following the instructions we put across.

“It's when you don't go out there and you take it easy you end up losing. That's the disappointing thing, you need to leave everything out on the pitch to be proud of your individual performance as a player. 

“We haven't had a lot of success in putting back-to-back wins, we're now on two so hopefully we can continue it, but we know there's going to be a very tough test tonight as Bradford may look at trying something different as well.”

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