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Interviews

Kewell On Returning To Action

15 February 2021

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© Eddie Garvey

The Head Coach spoke to iFollow Latics after the final preparations which will see his side back return to Sky Bet League Two after two weeks out with postponements.

Using the break wisely, he’s under no illusions it’s going to be a tough period to finish the campaign with fixtures packed tightly twice a week for the next month at least.

“It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks. I suppose it isn't ideal especially with what we're dealt with at the moment, you want to keep playing to back up results and with the fixture backlog now we’re going to have to play some catch up, but most teams are in a similar position, so we're in for a bit of a hectic ride now.

“It's 14 games in seven weeks in total so we know it's going to be tough, but I think the break has helped my team. It's nice that we've nearly got a full squad to pick from. Everybody's pretty much fit and healthy and it gives me a lot of problems, in a good way. 

“But like I said to the players today it's not going to be one side that can do this. It's going to have to be the whole group of players that are going to have to come together and not be disappointed if they miss out for one game but come back in for the next game. There’s going to be some rotation as it will be hectic but after the break we’re just ready to get back out there and compete for the three points.”

With the focus being on being prepared mentally and physically, Kewell admits the break was probably beneficial for his side even though it may have stopped any momentum gained from the last minute winner against Salford.

“This break has its positives and negatives, the negative being we’ve still been battling the weather conditions during the week trying to train on grass which has disrupted us that way. 

“But once again we’ve had to adapt. The main thing is that we've got to focus on the now and it’s these games coming up that are extremely important on how our season looks like going into the latter part of the campaign.

“Like I said, I've got nearly a full squad to pick from, which is great. And we're going to look forward to these challenges with confidence.”

The first bit of action is a return to Forest Green Rovers, a fixture that was the opening game of 2021 but was abandoned shortly after an hour due to worsening fog.

“I presume now they'll still play in a similar way. They'll be aggressive from the start and can play a number of different formations which they’re very effective at. So, we'll go down there with our mindset of scoring goals and focusing on our strengths. We know what we're good at and we're going to go there and give it a good go again. 

“We’re used to the surroundings. People talk about it being a long journey, but again we’re professionals, we get to prepare for things like this,” the Head Coach said.

With a lack of natural firepower due to injuries, the return of George Blackwood and Zak Dearnley are only around the corner, with Marcus Barnes also looking sharp adding to Kewell’s options in the final third.

“These two weeks have been beneficial to everyone and especially the strikers and it's great to see that they're all backing firing. They just need a little bit more fitness this week, especially George and Zak, but Marcus is raring to go.

“George is looking great in training and so is Zak, you can see it in their eyes that they want to be back involved when it matters and knowing finishing the season strongly benefits them as well. So I'm really excited about having some more options in attack as it’s definitely been one of our strengths this season.”

He added: “It's been a strange season, not only because of what's happening around the world but even when you look at we’re still a new team. We've had to mix and match it a few times and figure out what our best formation is in different patterns of play whilst in games. 

“We’re now starting to see a little bit more consistency now which is great. So we're just going to take that into each game. We know it'd be fantastic to get a result down there and we're going to have to be at our very best because they are still fighting for the automatic promotion spots.”

Whilst Kewell is just eager to be back on the touchline; “It’s been such a long time and I'm excited for tomorrow. But like I said, we're going to go down there focused as we know it's going to be a tough, tough game but one we're going to play it the right way and give it our best as we want to start stringing some results together to give us a chance come the end of the season."


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