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Archived News from March 2003

3rd March 2003 20:11

Howard injured, Leary and Jupp could start

Steve Howard misses the Mansfield game tomorrow night with a knee injury picked up at Notts County on Saturday, and Michael Leary may make his debut, manager Joe Kinnear said at today's Press Conference.

Joe also said that Duncan Jupp could make his full debut after coming on near the end on Saturday.

He said that he may have to lower his sights as he has been unable to bring in the players he wanted, but he said that he is reluctant to accept the players he is being offered. “I don't want to take Mr Average.”

The manager also backed two of his players who are on FA charges, Kevin Nicholls and Sol Davis. “It's ridiculous and about three months after the games in both cases. They've served their punishments as they've both been suspended. Now if we get to the Play-Offs we could be without them. Why wasn't it handled at the time?” he asked.

”We've lost Howard just as he was getting back in the side. He's had two stitches in his knee and it's swollen up. I don't know whether he'll be back for Huddersfield on Saturday. I'm trying to get more players in but I may have to lower my sights and that's the last thing I wanted. I don't want to get Mr Average in. I tried to get quality players. I wanted to get Jermaine Pennant but Arsenal have decided to keep him there. I've been desperately trying to get in a striker this morning but I'm not having the best of luck and the ones I'm being offered aren't better that what I've got.

”But we're on this earth to be tested and I'm not going to be negative about it. What's happened has happened and we're still only one point outside the Play-Offs. We've got some cracking games coming up and whatever side I put out I expect to win.

”It's going to be hard because without Howard, we're back to being a small side and the danger is that you get picked off at set plays and beaten.

”The crowd on Saturday weren't happy with some of the players but a week ago they were singing the same players' praises. But the fans have been brilliant and the atmosphere against Plymouth was electric.”

Joe said that many players are complaining of feeling tired as they face a third Tuesday night game in four weeks.

”On Sunday a lot of the players were saying that they're feeling tired,” said Joe, “I said that we have to get that out of our minds and give it our best shot. We've worked too hard all season to let it slip away now. If it goes to the last game of the season at Swindon, so be it. We want that last Play-Off slot, that's the message we're thumping into the players. And we've all got to get behind them and give them our support and I still believe we can do it. Nothing I've seen in this league frightens me and if we lose it, we'll beat ourselves because we're capable of beating all of the top sides.

”Everybody is beating everybody else because I think fatigue and tiredness are creeping in. We've been having three games a week and are finding it tough going. We've had a disappointment one week and then picked ourselves up for the next game.

”It looked like a nothing game on Saturday but then they scored two great goals. We couldn't get going on Saturday but that's behind us now and hopefully it will be different at Mansfield. It won't be an easy game but people have to dig in. We have to have a winning mentality. We're not doing badly but after last season the expectation level is high. It's time to roll your sleeves up now and get stuck in.

”I may play a different formation. I may freshen things up and maybe put in a couple of the youngsters for their debuts. Jupp may start. I'm thinking about a lot of options. We've got players carrying knocks and I may be being unfair to them but they're desperate to play. Whichever side I put out I'm looking for a big improvement on Saturday. We've got some tough games to play. We've done really well to be where we are with players breaking down and injured, so there is a bright side in that we're only a point outside the Play-Offs.

”We thought Forbsey would be back by now but he's missed the entire season. Skelton has missed 34 games, Perrett 23, Bayliss 29, Nicholls a dozen, Griffiths 39, Crowe 11, Thorpe 9 - so it's a never ending saga of injuries. Now we've got Boyce, Robinson, Howard out - we've had more than our fair share of injuries, that's for sure.

”We're not blessed with a million quality players but they're hard-working and they're honest. Most of them are free transfers, don't forget.

”Mansfield are the most attack-minded side in the league but whether it's serving them well I don't know. They do go for you, there's no question about that. They play with two out-and-out wingers in Corden and Lawrence and two strikers through the middle in Christie - who's a handful - and Junior Mendes.

”But we've got to be prepared for that. It won't be an easy match, but we intend to get something out of it, that's for sure.

”Keith Curle the player-manager is still a good player at 39. I had him with me at Wimbledon for a number of years. He'll be looking to play offside most of the time. If they have a good day and everything goes well for them, then they're a good side.

”We are going to defend the charge against Sol Davis because we think it's unfair. It's ridiculous what they're doing for a game that was played last December. Why wasn't it handled at the time? Now should we get to the Play-Offs those players may be suspended just when we need them for something that happened a long time ago.

”They've gone out of their way to nail Nico. It's a disgrace what he's been charged with. He's charged with failing promptly to leave the field of play. We've looked on the video and he was walking off. Some of the QPR players were giving him verbals and he was answering but he kept on walking.

”Then he's charged with inciting the crowd by pointing to his name on his shirt - but that was to our own fans by the tunnel, not to the QPR fans.

”Now both of them face two-game bans I would think just when we need them.”


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