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Tom Flanagan reckons that our failure to match the work rate and physical presence of Burton led to Jack Ross successfully changing his formation against Rochdale. The former Burton man explained: “It’s about matching people in this league. If we do that then our quality will show. In the first 15 minutes against Rochdale we didn’t concede which was great. You do find yourself clock-watching a bit because of how things have gone so far, it’s impossible not to, but having got through that stage we were able to show our quality. That didn’t happen at Burton. That’s what we’ve said this week, it’s all well and good having the talented players but if we don’t match the work rate, we won’t match teams. We didn’t come away thinking, we’ve been outplayed, we need to change our style. It was a case of, we were beaten by hard work, and that’s not unacceptable. We were in the dressing room quite a long time after so by the time Monday came around it had all been aired. We had a quiet coach journey back so we all reflected. On Monday we watched some clips, pointed some fingers. And against Rochdale we proved that we don’t like that, we don’t want to let that happen. I think that’s the right way to go about things. Some might disagree, other managers might not do it that way, but I think it’s good.”

Flanagan was also delighted to finally get through a full 90 minutes of first team football after picking up a knee injury at the end of pre season. “I was really pleased to get a start in, although it’s about a month-and-a-half too late in my eyes. The injury was a pain but it’s over and done with now, I’m feeling fit. I was pleased to get through the 90 (minutes). I was really worried when it first happened. It happened on the Tuesday before the first game of the season. It was innocuous, but I was in real, real pain. I just sort of went over, there was a challenge with (Lynden) Gooch, but I didn’t quite get there. My knee swelled and the physio wasn’t sure what had happened. When we went for the scan it was clear, which was a surprise, so we just had to let it settle down. It took a lot longer than I thought but at one point we worried it would be until Christmas. I got back quicker than I would have done at any other club. The facilities and the medical staff are just absolutely second to none. Sitting and watching the first game of the season was the worst thing but it’s a long season and very few players get through it unscathed.”

In other news, we are apparently keeping tabs on Ayr United striker Lawrence Shankland, who has scored 29 goals in 33 games

Meanwhile, Jack Ross was delighted with the performances of both Chris Maguire and Josh Maja against Rochdale. “We looked at how we’ve been best this season, and I think Josh is at his best when he has someone up front and around him,” Ross said. “The type of player Chris is suits him best in that way. What we have to keep working on, and we did during the week, is that they don’t both come too deep at the same time. They both have a tendency to want the ball because they’re good footballers. It’s just that encouragement for them to stretch the game at times, and at least one of them to do that. We did a lot of that during the week, and I thought they took that on board and did it. It doesn’t always come naturally to either of them, but when they do it, it stretches the game and we have more room to play in. We’ve had times recently where teams have tried to condense the game, and that makes it harder for our players to have those moments of quality like you’ve seen from them today. He’s [Maja] an easy one, so as a manager, I can’t take credit for keeping him grounded or focused. He’s a really, really nice young man, and conducts himself in a really good way. He has a willingness to learn and get better, and even if he’s been criticised or has done anything wrong, he takes it in the correct manner. His attributes on the pitch, everybody can see, and off the pitch, I like everything I have to deal with. It’s a really good mix for him, and it gives him a really good grounding and foundation to go on and have a good career. Our responsibility is more to enhance some of the things he can improve upon, but also continue to strengthen the things he’s good at because you can sometimes get caught up on thinking a player has a weakness and trying to make that better. You can address it slightly, but you’re as well trying to accentuate the positives as well, and we’ll do that with him on a weekly basis. He’s stepped up every time we’ve needed him, and that’s something you can’t predict as a manager.”

Ross added. “You don’t know with any certainty how a young player will respond to that. It goes back to that question when you’re asked about players coming through your academy and who’s the next big thing. It’s so difficult to predict because until they’re thrown in to the first-team environment, with the pressures that brings, you don’t know how they’ll react. I know he’s had a taste of it prior to this season, but this season is really the first time he’s had to face it week in, week out and he should take an enormous amount of pride and confidence out of how he’s responded to that. He’s shown, ‘I can deal with that. I’m a first-team footballer, and I can deal with the pressures of first-team football at a club of this size’. I have no doubts that he’ll continue to produce what he’s doing, and I think he’ll get better. I think the team will get better, and I think he’ll get better too.”

All 2,628 tickets for Bradford City away, on Saturday 6 October, are now sold out. You can book transport for Coventry and Bradford via ALS here…

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