Bobby Wilkinson Pre-Match Thoughts
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
Ahead of a tough away trip to Bath City on Saturday, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Bobby Wilkinson on Tuesday before facing the Romans at Twerton Park.
Team news update…
“Rhys Tyler’s hamstrings mean he’s 50/50 for Saturday, bad news that is really because we really need him right now. Sam Cox is off on international duty now for 11 days, so he won’t be available on Saturday. Jeffrey Monakana is ill and on antibiotics at the moment so he’s out for seven to 10 days and we also released Reece Mitchell this week.
“With Connor Stevens we are still waiting for the swelling to go down, but it looks like a bad one. We just have to wait and assess it when we can, we can’t tell you what the problem is at the moment because there’s still too much swelling. He could not even attend a team night out last night [Monday] because he can’t walk on it.
“It’s a massive massive loss for this football club and especially me, it’s a proper dent and it’s really hurt me that one because he’s been out of this world all year. I’m so sorry for the lad, I wanted him to finish the season strong because of how well he’s been playing. Time-wise at the moment I can’t tell you, it could be a week, it could be the end of the season.”
On any additions to squad numbers before Saturday…
“We’ve got to go with the squad that we’ve got, we’ll have to play a few players in different positions, we may struggle to make a full bench because of injuries but that’s football. Let’s just get on with it, stick together and just keep trying to win games of football.”
On picking up injuries after so many players have returned…
“What was really pleasing was how hard everyone worked to get back fit but with this league and with competitive non league games, alongside a small squad and players leaving such as Yam [Mambo] and Glenn [Wilson], how hard you push them to make up points and all the travelling we’ve done in the last month, it will always come back and bite you. That’s non-league football.
“Look at Welling on the weekend, they had three players missing and could only have three on the bench. We’re at the stage of the season now where it’s very difficult for these lads because some of them also work full-time and being pushed to the limit at training and during games because we have to, eventually tiredness will catch-up on you. We had four centre-halves, we lost two of them in Yam Mambo and Glenn Wilson and now we’ve lost another [Connor Stevens] to injury and it’s caught up with us. Realistically we are short but we just have to get on with it and carry on.
“It’s so unfortunate with Connor [Stevens’ injury] because it was a freak accident, he won a brilliant header and just landed awkwardly. Rhys Tyler was brought back early after a foot problem because we needed him and now his hamstrings are very tight. The one we are worried about now is Stefan Brown because we had to bring him back early as well. We brought these players back because we simply had to, they needed to help us out.”
On facing Bath this weekend…
“We’re going to need a result in Bath this weekend, I’m not going to lie to you, we’re going to need it now. Hopefully the boys can push again and keep believing. We had a good chat last night and everyone believes we are in a very good position but when we get tired on Saturday [at Bath] we need to have a strong mindset where we can go again.
“We’ve been pushing to the limit in 2019. Facts don’t lie, we’re going there with a bare minimum squad [because of injuries] and I don’t think I can fill a bench because we are down to the bare bones. Numbers-wise it isn’t great, but I don’t moan about it I just get on with it. We may end up with 12 or 13 on the bench and one’s a goalkeeper but we will go there and we will fight, wear the badge with pride and we will have a go. We’ll need the whole club to back us and Bath will be facing a team who haven’t lost away in 2019 so the management team and I enjoy these challenges and so do the boys.”
On the play-off push…
“If results don’t go for you [last] Saturday and your result doesn’t go how you want it to then it’s going to be much tougher. You have to keep believing until it’s not mathematically possible. I saw a few heads-down on Saturday. Why? We got beat but we go again. There’s lots to play for still so you have to keep believing, if you don’t keep believing then that’s when the season’s over.”
We have the third-best away record in the league, will Bath playing midweek have any affect?
“Bath playing on Tuesday does not affect anything at all. Bath are a fantastic side, they’re flying at the moment. Yes, we have been unbelievable away from home but it’s all been about a full-strength side, this week sacrifices will be made and we need to be smart about it and hope we don’t get more injuries.
"It won’t be our strongest 11 on-paper because your Connor Stevens’ won’t be in it and your Rhys Tyler’s may not be in it but we’ll certainly go to Bath and have a go.”