Phil Parkinson has spoke ahead of this weekend’s clash with Gillingham in Kent, the gaffer also updated fans on the Aiden McGeady situation and injury updates.
Parkinson’s Gillingham Preview
“We need to bounce back against Gillingham, but we know they’ll make it as tough as possible for us going down there, we knew somewhere along the line, someone would score a goal against us, but we’ve been disappointed to concede five in two games and we want to respond. We need to make sure there hasn’t been a shift in mentality – we can’t be thinking we’ve cracked the defensive side of our game and getting complacent with it. Clean sheets are hard-earned, that’s what we’ve done to achieve them this season. Steve Evans has recruited some decent players for Gillingham, they’ll want to claim a scalp against us, and they’ll be looking to get back on track after their recent indifferent spell – we have to be back to our best. Gillingham play a different style to Rochdale. They had a good start to the season and then some indifferent results of late, but of course they will try to make it as uncomfortable as they can for us and we have to be ready for that. It's a case of striking the right balance between being physically strong enough to deal with the long throws and set-plays and what have you, but also making sure we have the calmness to get the ball down and play. Prior to the Portsmouth game, I don't think we could complain, defensively we had been very good. Our expected goals was 14 and we had scored ten so we were a bit behind that, but it was also an indication that we had been creating clear-cut chances, while there are other teams in the league who have scored more goals than their expected goals. So we're behind in terms of finishing but that tells you that we are creating chances. There are other teams who have scored more goals than their expected tally. So that balance between defence and attack I don't think was far off where it needs to be. Clearly, the chances we have created, we haven't taken a big enough percentage of them. The balance between scoring goals and keeping it tight defensively, I don't think was too far away from where it needed to be it was just that we hadn't taken a large enough percentage of the chances we had created. Drawing of course makes the Gillingham game more important but it's still early in the season. Two points-per-game usually gets you promoted over the course of the season and we're only one point off that, which we need to get up. Away from home, the ratio is usually 1.69 over the course of a season to get promoted. We’ve got eight points from our four away games so are above that, and want to notch it up again at the weekend. Games can be tighter than people would like, we did have a spell of games last season which we won convincingly, of which Rochdale at home was one. There was Tranmere and Wycombe, too. We had those games and they will come along, I am convinced of that. But teams work hard to stop you and they will be right up for it when they play Sunderland, and we have to be ready for that."
Parky on the Squad
“I’m very pleased with Charlie (Wyke), his all-round performances have been good, with the goals on the back of it, and the deliveries into the box for him have been top quality. Charlie knows he has to continue his form – there is a lot of competition for places and players desperate to play – but right now he’s justifying his place and doing very well. Definitely, we have young players hungry for an opportunity, as well as senior lads who aren’t getting too much football at the moment. The youngsters have had a reasonable integration in terms of pre-season and the Papa John’s Trophy games, and we now have a couple more cup games coming up with an opportunity for these lads to get another chance.”
The Boss on McGeady and Injuries
“Aiden (McGeady) at the moment has had to have an injection in his knee anyway, he had a spell of training with the U23s but at the moment he's in the treatment room with a similar problem to Jordan (Willis). As I said in the summer, we've got Elliot Embleton who is playing again for the U23s. He's another player who I'm looking forward to seeing emerge for us. Unfortunately we've had to be patient with him but if he can get through today, we're expecting him in the run of games we have coming to get some minutes with the first team. Dion Sanderson got a whack on the knee in the second half against Rochdale – he showed good character to want to stay on the pitch. We’ll assess that. Luke O’Nien actually had a swollen ankle earlier this week, and probably wouldn’t have played even if he wasn’t suspended, but he was back out there training today which is good. Jordan Willis has an ongoing problem with his patella tendon which he had an injection in last season and we’re just trying to manage him through this period. He and I need to sit down with the doctor and the physio – he’s had a scan, and we’ll see where he’s at.”
PP Reflects on Rochdale and Pompey
"In the last two games, the points return hasn't been good enough, we’ve looked as a staff at the reasons why we feel that is the case and we will try and improve that. But I was just looking at the last promotion I was involved in from this division, at Bolton in 2016-17, and going through the season we had a fantastic start, then a bit of an indifferent spell but we stayed calm and came through the other side of it, towards the end of the season we thought we had got over the line with a win away from home, then lost a couple and got pegged back, and it went right to the last couple of games. We would love to be at the top of the table and for it to be plain sailing every week, but it is a competitive league. We just have to keep a clear focus on what we need to achieve in the long-term, over the course of the season, and in the short-term, from game-to-game. I'm confident in the squad, I think we're strong, and we have cover in all areas. Yeah, we've had a bit of a setback but we have to big enough to take it on the chin and respond to it. We have to accept that teams raise their game when Sunderland come to town, and make sure we are prepared for it. It happened at Rochdale on Tuesday night. I'd love to be able to say that all we have to do is turn up at Gillingham and everything will take care of itself, but that's not the case. We have to be ready to roll our sleeves up again, be prepared to face another team that might raise its game 10 percent, and rise above that and play our game. The Portsmouth defeat knocked us, which every defeat does, then we drew at Rochdale when really, on the balance of play, we should have been sat on the coach with three points. Obviously, the game against Pompey, we were uncharacteristic in being sloppy in our play. We were punished for that. At Rochdale, we dominated the second half and should have won, but when you score goals you have to make sure they are the ones that win you games. As I've said, we were just a bit loose in terms of our roles and responsibilities to make sure that if Rochdale were to score, they had to really earn it. I thought the tempo of our play was decent, some of the decision making wasn't great, or some of the quality of our play wasn't great, but we kept trying to do the right things and were knocking on the door. We were practically camped in their half and I felt the way we set up was giving them problems. Of course, when the moments come you've got to take them. Danny Graham just couldn't quite get enough purchase on that header and if he does and that goes in, then it's a good night's work. We have to respond to that, be calm, and go to Gillingham with a clear understanding of what is required."