Phil Parkinson reacted on the 2-1 defeat to old enemy Joey Barton’s Fleetwood at Highbury Stadium in the Papa John’s EFL Trophy, he also provided fans with an injury update ahead of the weekend’s clash against MK Dons.
Parky Reflects on Fleetwood
“The first 45 was excellent, I was so pleased with the way we played, and there were so many positives. The injuries have just derailed us a bit, and meant that some of the lads we wanted to bring off to protect them have had to stay on. We just became a bit disjointed but I don't want to take from what were some very, very good performances both individually and collectively in the first half. We’ve hit the woodwork three times and should be out of sight. It was an excellent exercise for us in a competition we'd already secured progression from. There are lessons to learn, as well. At the start of the second half there was always going to be a response from Fleetwood, and we became a little bit slower on the ball than we had been. In general, I just think we lost our way in that period where we have had to constantly reshuffle the pack. We wanted to get Elliot Embleton through 90 minutes tonight, psychologically, that was huge for him. Even the last ten or 15 minutes chasing a goal, I just wanted him to get through to the whistle. He’s been out a hell of a long time and you can’t hide away from that. I can’t remember the last time he completed 90 minutes. It was a long time ago, but he’s a terrific talent and was unlucky not to score in the first half when he hit the post. So it became disjointed in the second half, but I don't want that to take the gloss off what were some very good performances - individually and collectively - in that first 45 minutes, when we scored, we hit the bar twice, we hit the post, and we really should have been out of sight. But it was an excellent exercise for us in a competition where we had already qualified for the next round, and I can take great heart from some of those performances tonight. We had already done the work to get through and that gave us the chance to play a young team, as Fleetwood did, with just a sprinkling of senior players on both teams. The plan over the lockdown was to strengthen up that U23 team and recruit some players who could transition into the first team because last season the quality wasn't good enough, we could all see that. We wanted to bring in better players and we've started to do that. There's still more work to do, but the U23s' results this season have shown the improvements we've made. We had to play players out of position because we had run out of players who could play left wingback, and left-sided centre-back. But in terms of some of the play in the first half, some of the football, I thought Dan Neil and George Dobson were excellent in terms of their quality. It was probably Dan’s best 45 for us – he showed what he’s all about and I’m so pleased for him – and George as well. He’s had a difficult start to the season in terms of getting sent off, and his season hadn’t quite got going, but that was the best 45 minutes for George as well. I’m so pleased for him. I think people forget with George that last year, he was terrific for us. Sometimes, players lose a bit of form – it can be a bit of confidence or lacking a bit of match sharpness. I saw some good signs in George tonight.”
“It obviously takes the gloss off the night for those lads that we’ve picked up a couple of injuries, but we’ll not know how bad they are fully assessed. It doesn't look too bad for Callum McFadzean, Even with the injuries, I was going to take him off and then it was so frustrating to see him go down before we could make the change. I think it was just a bit of spasm - I hope so, anyway - because I thought he was tremendous for us, he gave us a real creative spark on that left side, and got his goal. Cieran Dunne dislocated his shoulder. It has popped back in, so we'll have to have a look at that. And I really felt for Ollie Younger because he has made a real impression since he has been here, but he was just sprinting for the ball and he felt his hamstring tighten up - that can happen sometimes when the pace of the game is a bit above what you are used to. We just have to hope that it's not too bad. We looked at Jordan Willis’ training load over the last few weeks and he has played a lot of small-sided games and keep-ball sessions, but we felt that he needed some 11v11 practice tonight in preparation for the weekend. My intention was to give him 60-70 minutes but that went out of the window and he had to play 90."
In other news, Elliot Embleton was delighted to get through the Fleetwood game unscathed after his injury woes have kept him on the side-lines so far this season. “Burnley away was the last time (I played a full 90) but I’m buzzing to be back,” he said. “Playing 90 minutes is what you want to do and playing for the first-team was a big opportunity. To play the full game is really good both physically and mentally, and hopefully I can get more minutes to show people what I can do. It was a game of two halves. In the first half, we dominated the ball and created a lot of chances and hit the woodwork three times. In the second half they came out at us and they had a few experienced players and I think that showed.”