Bobby Wilkinson Pre-Match Thoughts
Wealdstone are back on the road in the league this Saturday, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Bobby Wilkinson ahead of the trip to Gloucester City.
General squad update…
“The squad is fully fit, even Rhys Tyler is back [and] fully fit. As you’ve seen [against Billericay] Stefan Brown now is fully fit. Ramarni [Medford-Smith]’s gone back [to Reading] which is a big shame for us but I wish him all the best on his new journey with Reading and hopefully everything goes well for him, on a personal note it’s a massive thank you to him for his dedication and what he did for the football club.”
Bradley Bubb update…
“Bradley Bubb will be out for at least nine months. It’s a difficult one for him, we are looking after him the best we can. He’s the only one now [out injured] but his is long-term and will be a long way away [from returning], whatever I can do to help him, he knows that I’m there for him.
“He’s been at every game [and] every training session working hard to stay focused but until he has his operation on that knee, there is not much I can really say about it. He’s still got to go for more scans, more checks until they decide [when to have the operation].”
On Gloucester being an organised unit in recent weeks…
“They [Gloucester] are very organised, their manager [Mike Cook] is a very good manager. His record speaks for itself since he’s gone in there, he’s been there for six games and they haven’t lost; to get them out of the relegation zone is a credit to him and a challenge I look forward to coming up against him.”
On Gloucester facing our good scoring record…
“They’ll want to keep a clean sheet and we’ll want to score so it’s going to be a game of chess then. It’s going to be hard work for both teams, can we break each other down because they need to win but we need to win as well. It’s looking likely to be a really entertaining game hopefully.
“They’ve just held Chelmsford 0-0 who are flying in the league but can we be one of the teams that go there and score past them? They’ve only conceded one goal in six games which is a hell of an achievement in this league and they have not conceded at home since he [Mike Cook] took over, only conceded one goal against Slough Town. We have to make it very very clear it will be some achievement if we score down there but these are the challenges I like, these are the challenges the boys have been enjoying in the last few weeks.
“Neither team are the underdogs, it’s just two teams in great form who are competing for different places in the table. Just that in itself means it is going to be a fierce encounter.”
On trying to not concede ourselves…
“We’ll be working very hard at training tomorrow [Thursday] on shape, what we do off the ball and what we’ll do on it. We’re going to keep working and working on making sure the team are focused, we had an in-depth meeting last Thursday [with the players] talking about if you want to make the play-offs then you have to stay focused and not concede silly goals.
“Problem is this year is we’ve conceded silly little goals at silly periods of time, prime example on Monday night [against Billericay] we didn’t really have to concede that goal. That’s what I talk about as they are the only little fine margins, we’ve got to try and be better at little things like that at the moment.”
On keeping fitness levels high…
“We’ve got another big two games coming up now [Gloucester and Weston-super-Mare] and fitness is going to be key. We’ve got a game plan again, the game plan worked on Monday, it’s the first time in a long time I’ve played 4-4-2 at home. I always like a game plan, we always like the challenge and the gamble but we are going to have to go to Gloucester and believe that we can win.
“The boys are ready, we’re organised, fitness is back and when you’re flying high the little niggles and injuries clear a lot quicker than when you’re near the bottom. That’s the same for any football team at any level. Right now the boys deserve the credit for how hard they’ve worked to get back to full fitness.
“Everyone saw how hard Freddie Grant was [working to get back] and my physio deserves a lot of credit, we worked extra hard behind closed doors and out of hours to get him fit. A lot of people don’t see what we do behind closed doors and Freddie [Grant] deserves a lot of credit for committing all that dedication.”
On Freddie Grant playing 90 minutes on his return against Billericay on Monday…
“First things first, I have to apologise to Freddie [Grant] because he shouldn’t have been playing 90 minutes. Unfortunately I had no other option in the end and because the game was so tight I took a bit of a gamble with him but he’s just been a credit to this football club.
“The way he’s come back by working hard with his fitness, both him and Stefan Brown, I’ve seen how much work Stefan Brown has done with Reading behind the scenes. Both players have spent time and money to get back fit and the club have helped the best we can but they’ve done a lot of work on their own to get fit. Now you can see why I signed them sort of characters.
“Not many people picked that up on Monday night but we started two players that haven’t played for a long long time. It could have backfired massively because we could have finished the game with nine-men but it just shows where we are helped them mentally get through the pain.”
On having a mentally strong side…
“My teams have to be mentally strong as well and we should another mental side of our character on Monday. It’s not all about flair players that can finish in the top corner, it’s about being mentally prepared and showing that side of the game as well.
“We’re in a critical stage [of the season] and are playing with pressure but I’m making sure that I’m taking the pressure away from the players because that’s key. That’s why we are having a lot of fun at training but still working hard, we’re not really speaking about where we are in the league because if you put too much pressure on players then players will fold.”
On the management teams experience at this critical stage…
“Not many people know this but I’ve gone to the final weekend of every season either with a chance of getting play-offs or being in a play-off spot up to last year. One thing I’m really trying to do at this football club is build something special, build a foundation for the future coming seasons at this club. I’m trying to build a structure for the future of Wealdstone and I don’t want to be a one-season wonder. I want to make sure we are competing in this league, the league above or wherever we are every single year.
“Me and the management team are travelling, watching games; learning every day of the week if we can. We even bump into each other at other games from time-to-time, it really shows how hard we are working all the time every day of the week.
“I want fans to get entertainment every game, I want the board happy with what we’re doing every season, I want players signing because they know we’re a team that want to be fighting for honours or fighting for the play-offs. This week I can honestly say that I am starting to see something special that I’m building here with this management team and these players.
“I just feel like I’m building something special here, but I can’t do that overnight, you can’t build on one-season wonders, I’m building on a structure where we’re competing every year. I don’t work to not achieve, I don’t sacrifice my family time every day of the week not to achieve. We [the management team] sacrifice a lot and the players sacrifice a lot too. It may not happen overnight but we are building for the future as well.”