King in the North

Chris ‘The King’ Maguire has scooped the award for the League One goal of the month for the second month running following his screamer against Southend. And Maguire reckons this one was even better than the last. He explained: “That’s two in two which is a great achievement for me. I think this one is better than the last and if you’re looking at them both, I think this one deserved it more. The mentality we’ve picked up means that even when things aren’t going great, we dig in and comeback, as we showed last weekend. We’re on a great run, so hopefully we can keep it going and move up to that number one spot.”

Meanwhile Jack Ross has been lauding his sides impressive display against Barnsley earlier this week, as the Lads brushed aside their promotion rivals with a display of total football. Ross said: “Barnsley was an enjoyable game and it was another test for us because of who Barnsley are as a squad, where they were last season and the players they have within their group. There were loads of things that pointed to it being a big test for us and it was another one we came through. Each time we’ve been asked questions this season I think, by and large, we’ve responded. Naturally, the belief strengthens each and every time. The players - because they’re in a good run of form, because they’ve won so many games this year - I think they believe we’re scoring every game, which means they’re in a good place." Ross reckons it’s a collective effort by the team though, and the togetherness of the squad will be key during a hectic Christmas schedule: “Individually there and as a whole squad. The great thing is they’re not relying on 12 or 13 players, it very much has been a collective effort. I think it’s good having these couple of cup games as well because the league is relentless. Although we want very much want to progress in these cups, there is a different feel around it. It gives a bit of freshness, especially this week because we were on league business last week.”

Finally, with the January transfer looming, the gaffer is happy to make do with what he has if needs be. "If you were to say to me that I can't do any business in January, I'd be quite happy," explained Ross. "That's in or out. I'd be quite content because I have a good squad and it has proven itself. You don't do what they have done without being good and being able to handle the league. So I'm not anticipating us doing huge amounts in January."

The biggest danger the Lads face is keeping hold of their most talented players, with the likes of Josh Maja, Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman all impressing. The vultures are sure to be circling, but Ross is confident of keeping his young stars: “The dialogue I’ve had with the players in question has always been positive,” said the gaffer. “And I think that’s a genuine feel for how they are at the club. You can never say never in football, you just don’t know what’s around the corner, but I’m still very optimistic that these players will remain at the club. I think it helps that they’re playing well, and they’re enjoying their football. There’s two sides to that – one, it attracts more attention, but two, it makes it much harder for them to decide they don’t want to commit to being here. The great thing at the moment is that they’re also seeing the best of this club, in terms of the fan base and how they’re embraced. When I was trying to sign players in the summer, I was telling them, ‘This is an opportunity to come and be a hero’. At the time, I probably didn’t realise that was just as true for some of the current players as well. It’s also an opportunity for them to be heroes, and some of them are doing that at the moment. Listen, they’ve got a bit to go to completely have that status, but at the moment, they’re putting themselves in the forefront of the supporters’ affections. I’m sure it’s a good feeling for them as well.”

Both Gooch and Honeyman have been in great form this season and that’s not gone unnoticed by Ross: "He's my type of player," said Ross of Gooch. ”I was lucky that when I came to the club I inherited some players who can fit with how I like my teams to play. I've spoken often enough about George and how he is, and Lynden falls very much into the same category. I don't think it is any coincidence that Lynden came through as part of that same group under Kevin Ball at the time. He trains brilliantly all the time and I love how he plays, his willingness to play in different roles for me, his understanding and game intelligence are just really good. His goals and assists this season is brilliant and I don't see any reason for that to change because he is happy and enjoying himself. Him and George are benefiting from having this consistent run of games."

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