Preparing as if the game is on
THERE'S SNOW DOUBT
Blizzard-like conditions and freezing temperatures are likely to postpone the Town's trip to Nuneaton but Town boss Paul Buckle is remaining focused despite the current cold snap.
“The good thing for us is that the players that haven't been playing played in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Reading so they're okay,” said the manager at his press conference on Friday morning. “They're up and running. Its just a case of getting through this morning. We can't get on the pitch and get the balls out so a few strides and maybe a few sprints and then wait to see but prepare for it to be on.”
Much focus from the Hatters was on how they were preparing for the upcoming run of fixtures, starting with a behind-closed-doors friendly with Reading on Thursday. “The older boys done really well,” Buckle said delighted with his squad's efforts,
“It was 0-0 right up until 43 minutes and the younger lads did well second half and it was a really good run out, great for us and great for Reading on a really nice surface, lovely stadium and it was a really nice lift fr those who haven't been playing to play.”
It will be over a week since their last fixture when the Hatters return to league action on Tuesday as they lock horns with Lincoln at Kenilworth Road. Buckle spoke about his side's stalemate at the New Bucks Head against AFC Telford and described the game as “scrappy”.
“First half it was a game where we were quite patient and waited for the second half in terms of our chances, we got them just didn't put them away.”
This latest point saw the Hatters cement their spot firmly in the mix up for promotion with still games in hand on those above. Very few are calling who will be the eventual lifters of the Blue Square Bet Premier trophy come the close of the season and Buckle remains confident his side are in a prime position to achieve.
“It's tight” he said. “It's very close, with a lot of games to play in a short space of time, especially with this band of weather coming now.
“Ultimately I'm very happy because we are where we want to be. We've got a game or two in hand and if we do that we will be right in there.
The Hatters squad will need to be at their finest for the fixture congestion ahead and with a squad that has already felt the effects of injury Buckle hopes to add before the window is slammed shut on the 31st.
Upon asked weather he thought his squad was big enough to cope with the current demands he spoke honestly and responded “I don't think so, not at the moment no.”
“The other night at Telford we had three over. They were Dance, who hasn't played really competitive football for over a year, Adam Watkins and Matt Robinson with JJ O'Donnell injured. That's not really enough so I would like to add.
“I would like to with the transfer window closing in two weeks and then you've got a sort of conundrum of you have to leave it a week until it re-opens in the second week of February and then its 93 days.
“Your then running the risk of if you get a player he can't play all the games in the end and runs out of time so complex and confusing but if we can get the players in over the next couple of weeks it would really help me out.”
Like every transfer window the Hatters have been linked with various players through the month but the Town boss knows where he would like to strengthen and will focus on utilising this opportunity.
“We're looking at possibly a centre half still and maybe in a wide area,” responded Buckle.
“I think as an out-an-out winger we've only got Scott Neilson. So they are probably the areas, maybe some cover in and around right back because we only have Ronnie Henry, so possibly cover there.”
Despite the squad numbers many point towards four impressive front men who bolster the Hatters attack. A number Buckle is quick to indicate is not bigger than you should have with the effects of January taking their roll.
“Jon Shaw got a knock the other night and now your only dealing with three strikers, so with Dan Walker going out on loan, I don't think it's a massive number. the numbers I've just spoken about there, the squad's not big at all.
“We need to get more numbers in with all the games we've got coming up and that's what we've got to concentrate on between the games, trying to get the right players in.”
There has been movement off the field this past week with Paul Carden's departure confirmed earlier this week. The former Town midfielder who was appointed during Gary Brabin's tenure has left the club with former AFC Wimbledon assistant Stuart Cash, who he played under as a player whilst at Aldershot.
“I've only bought Carl Emberson to the club,” explained Buckle. “I've took on a lot of good staff at Luton and Paul's included in that, but ultimately any manager will tell you its nice to bring some of your own people in so Stuart was available, I've known him a long time he'll add great value in terms of his knowledge at this level.
“Paul's contract was set to run out in the summer and we have to be fair to him and it wasn't going to be renewed, so the best thing and the most honourable thing to do for us and the club was to come to an agreement with Paul and wish him well.”