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Bobby Wilkinson Pre-Match Thoughts

Ahead of Wealdstone’s away fixture at Weston-super-Mare on Saturday, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Bobby Wilkinson regarding team news and looking forward to Saturday’s game.

On Stefan Brown being one training session away from being available…

“Yes he [Stefan Brown] is a full session away. Credit to Stef for how hard he’s worked, it has been a very frustrating year for him personally because he actually is very fit this year apart from the niggles and what’s been happening to him [injury-wise]. My heart goes out to him because it’s very frustrating when you just want to play but you keep picking up niggles but he’s just ‘round the corner, he’s not far. We will assess him after tonight’s [Thursday] training session and he’d be great to have back ‘round the squad. It’s only good news for him.”

Rhys Tyler update…

“He’s [Rhys Tyler] still a bit away at the moment. He’s working very hard but we still haven’t got a full update when we think he will be back. I’m going to still call maybe a couple of weeks. I’d love him to be back now, that would be a massive boost to us but right now [I’ll] just try to keep you updated to a point where he’s still having problems but we still don’t know how long yet.

“We’re not going to say a time frame because if he goes over it he’d be disappointed but we’re not going to say under it either so we’re just going to say at the moment we’re thinking past week-by-week.”

Freddie Grant update…

“He’s [Freddie Grant] down to four weeks now. He’s coming on leaps and bounds; we reckon he’ll be training fully with us in two weeks’ time and then slowly bring him back into the squad. He’s not too far off; we reckon [at] the end of February he’ll be back playing but we are not going to rush that one.”

On the sharpness of returning Jake Sheppard

“He [Jake Sheppard] is fully fit and has trained very very hard on Saturday, we done extra work with Jake Sheppard on [last] Saturday afternoon. He trained really well so he’s well recovered because what we are trying to do at the moment with the team is to keep them fresh, keep them recovered. It’s very important at the moment that everyone is fresh, hungry and recovered. Jake [Sheppard] is ready for selection if I bring him into the squad on Saturday.”

On the challenge ahead against Weston-super-Mare…

“One thing I’ve learned in football, there’s no easy games; this will be one hell of a game. I expect not one person at our football club to turn up expecting to win this. I still want to go there as an underdog, we’re away from home, this is a tough team that’s just won at home against Slough, haven’t lost in three games. They’re a good footballing side [with a] good manager [Marc McGregor]. They’ve had an up-and-down season, mostly down, but anyone can beat anyone on their day. That’s one thing we’ve learnt in football, that’s one thing that’s happened this season.

“Who would have said Slough would have gone and lost at Weston-super-Mare? Well I tell you what, I would of because it’s happening every single week. So let’s not get carried away with it, this is a real, real, real tough game that if you don’t turn up and you don’t prepare the way we’ve prepared for Woking, the way we’ve prepared for Truro; the way we’ve prepared for Concord [then] you’ll get beat. I won’t expect standards to be low, our standards will be right up there [because] what we know is a massive challenge. We’re challenging the boys now, can we go to Weston and get something at Weston.

On not focusing on Weston-super-Mare’s league position…

“I’m not looking at where they are at in the table, I honesty truly do not look where they are in the table. I know where they are in the table but I don’t care where they are in the table, it’s been proven this year [that] anyone beats anyone if you don’t turn up in this league. We are going away from home where we’ve just had a massive long journey [to Truro], we’ve got another long journey [this Saturday].

“Fatigue can come in and that’s just people making excuses, I won’t accept any excuses. I won’t accept fatigue, long journeys so just do your job, get there, be professional and try and win a game. What will be will be, if we don’t win we don’t win but I will not accept where they are in the table, I’ll make that very clear because that’s the problem, everyone will be thinking ‘oh, they’re bottom we deserve to win’. No, I’ve looked at it the other way. I’ve worked harder on this opposition since Wednesday morning then I’ve worked on anyone because I know how tough this is going to be.”

On our recent positive away record…

“I don’t even want to talk about our away record. I don’t even want to talk about it, what happened on Tuesday [against Truro] is gone for me. My away record will only be good if I go and beat Weston. I don’t want to talk about what we’ve done, what we haven’t done. What I’m concentrating [on] and the football team, what we’re training on tonight [Thursday], is Weston, Weston, Weston. That’s when I do talk about keeping everything low-key, I see a lot of managers over the years talk about what they’ve done; in 2019 we are unbeaten and I understand that I know what we’ve achieved in games but we’ve achieved nothing, absolutely nothing. All I’m concentrating on is Weston, Weston, Weston. I wake up thinking Weston, I go to bed thinking Weston. I expect my team to be doing that because I know how tough it’s going to be, can I bring some points away from Weston [it] would be a great achievement for us and then we move onto the next one.

“When people read that I’m keeping it low-key, that’s what I mean I’m keeping things low-key. I like to watch and listen from other managers and try and study the game more and more; I see managers when they’re up there they’re on a high and it can just backfire on you overnight. No one will talk about 2019 if we lose to Weston, it’ll be ‘oh we lost to Weston’. For me that’s disrespectful to Weston, Weston are a fantastic team and I know how difficult it’s going to be. I look forward to a challenge; that will be a challenge.”

On how being low-key helps the players…

“Players know what I expect them to be doing and they’ve gone above the standards. They’re doing what they should do as footballers and that’s give 110% and wear the shirt with pride, they are doing that at the moment. I know that they are going to go through some more difficult times for the rest of the season because there’s 14 games so I know how difficult it’s going to be. I disagree with what’s said about us having an up and down season, we’ve had a brilliant season and had one bad month. I disagreed with that because we’ve haven’t had an up and down season we’ve had an extremely good season apart from one bad month.

“What we are trying to do is show our character by getting out of that bad month and I think we are showing that, we are as people and as a team as characters but you go back into that slump if you don’t concentrate. I told the media three months ago that it’s all about consistency in this league. Don’t be too high when you’re winning, don’t be too low when you’re losing. When we were losing I stayed low-key, when we’re winning I stay low-key. Right now it’s just all about the players focusing on the next game. It doesn’t matter where we are today [in the table], it doesn’t matter where we are tomorrow. People have said to be this that we are only two points outside the play-offs [but] I actually don’t care, what does that do? If I lose on Saturday [at Weston] I’m two points out [the play-offs]. I don’t care where we are today in the league, I’m not bothered being in and around it [the play-offs] because it achieves nothing today. All that matters is where we are in the last two weeks, have we got a chance.”

On the importance of our travelling supporters…

“I want to thank all the fans for what they did this week [travelling to Truro on Tuesday] it’s much appreciated. I want every fan to turn up [on Saturday] thinking it will be a great achievement if we win a game of football. I just want every fan to turn up and give their all like we will give our all and we just stick together, I don’t want anyone turning up thinking we should win. What I’ve learnt over the last year or two we talk about ‘oh we should be beating Weston for where they are’ but no that’s all stopped, that doesn’t happen.

We will show Weston every bit of respect, go into the game being an underdog, I enjoy being the underdog. If it’s on paper we’ll be the favourites I understand that, I’m not denying any of that, but in our house and in our changing room we’re going there knowing Weston are a fantastic footballing team.

“They changed the way they played against Slough, they went a lot more direct but they do play a lot of good football so we need to make sure we’re adapted to both styles of football on Saturday. We’ve done our work, we’ve worked extremely hard in the last couple of days on Weston and what will be will be but I don’t want anyone turning up thinking we should win a game, I will not accept that especially from my changing room.”


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