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Kewell Ahead Of Cheltenham Trip

26 January 2021

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The Head Coach spoke to iFollow Latics ahead of the game in Gloucestershire and was focused on the task in hand despite the transfer window being open.

Coming up against the Robins after their potential FA Cup shock at the weekend, Kewell knows the game at the Jonny-Rocks will be another difficult test. 

“We've definitely got to try and build some momentum now. We do that by keeping working hard, keep moving forward and we know it’s going to be another huge test for us.

“Although we got a good result against them earlier in the season, it was a very challenging time when they came here. But we dug in and worked hard and got the result in the end. 

“The games are always tough against them and they're obviously an exciting team. Although they lost to Manchester City recently they were unlucky against one of the best teams in Europe. 

“They’ll be proud of their performance and they were fantastic on the whole, a bit more luck and they would’ve caused a huge upset, so I'm sure they're going to be at it again, wanting to go again and make sure the cup run also shows in the league. 

“As always we’ll be up for the challenge but we’ll have to be switched on from the start and be ready to fight for every ball.”

One of Cheltenham’s key threats that was there for all to see live on TV on Saturday night was the long throw specialist, Ben Tozer. Someone the Head Coach admires but also a tactic they will have to manage and contend with to the best of their ability.

“We have to be cautious of that and we're well aware of it as well. Fair play it’s something they work on and it’s always the fine margins in football that sometimes make the biggest impact.

“We’ve got the long throw option if we need it too in Tom Hamer, but I’ll be clear from the start of the game with the officials what we can and can’t do with tactics such as wiping the ball down.

“It’s definitely a weapon for them, so it’s a part of our plan how to defend them properly. Tozer is a fantastic player and he showed his class against City the other night in the way he went about his job. 

“But like I said, they’re a good team that work well together and have good players. Alfie May is in fine form at the moment so we're going to have to be careful about him and the attacking threat they bring, but I’m sure they’re doing the same thing about us with the goals we score. So there's a lot of positives that both teams have.”

With players still out injured and goalkeeper Lawlor missing out just before kick-off at the weekend, a brief update was given but the club are confident the Latics number one will make a return to the side on Tuesday evening.

“Unfortunately Zak's not ready yet after his latest injury setback but Ian looks like he might be ready to come back in after feeling something at the weekend. 

“We're still waiting on the final sign-off from the medical team, so I can't give a definite yes or no yet but the players out are all working hard to get back to full fitness and be back involved and ready for selection.”

Whilst other players such as McCalmont, Whelan and Barnett are fighting for their places due to increased competition in the ranks.

“That’s the important thing I’ve always wanted to do is to create competition but in the right way. You want to try to keep the same momentum going forward but when you're seeing people reacting in the right way and seeing the hunger in their eyes, that makes you think I’ve got characters in my team who will perform when it really matters.”

Whilst talk externally intensifies, the Head Coach is pleased with his recruitment in January so far, with more still to add if the opportunity arises, but those already brought in have made the desired impact so early on in their time at the club.

“Nicky, Marcel and Marcus have all done well so far.

“Marcus when he came on he was fantastic, but the way Nicky came in, led the team and took the armband as well, he was phenomenal. Plenty of talking, his attitude to hard work and experience, he gave me everything, which was perfect and he got his reward in the end with the cross for the own goal that Newport scored.

“Marcel was excellent again as well in terms of physicality and composure on and off the ball. So for me to bring players like that into the club, again creates competition but also helps the players that I’ve got to improve their levels. We have to again, stay grounded and keep moving forward otherwise all the hard work isn’t rewarded, our full focus is on the Cheltenham game first.”

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