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NATHAN JONES ON THE CHELTENHAM PERFORMANCE, FORMATIONS AND JAMES COLLINS' FITNESS

16 November 2017

Town boss Nathan Jones said his side have had a good week of training ahead of Saturday's home match against Cambridge United as he monitors the fitness of striker James Collins.

The gaffer has had time to reflect on the draw last Saturday at Cheltenham Town and although he was frustrated by the outcome, he felt his players put in a good performance and it's a result they've already put behind them.

He said: "It's not like we got totally out played or we need to do this and get on the training ground and work. If Marek had dived on the ball, then kicked it as high and as far as he possibly could, the ref would have blown up. It would have been done.

"We could have done better on the corner, but they put then bodies in the box, it just fell to someone, we didn't quite clear the first one – which we did all afternoon. It's difficult because it's not something I can really mention, just next time Marek, dive on the ball and the game would have been done.

"Everything else I was pleased with. We headed it, we worked hard, we limited them, we created enough chances for an away side to win the game and I thought we saw the game out reasonably well, it's just one thing. We're not going to get too down, we won't dwell on it. We put it to bed on Monday. We have had a fine week since."

Just before half-time at the LCI Rail Stadium, ex-Crawley Town man Collins pulled up and was unable to continue after the break, being replaced by Elliot Lee. Jones said he is keeping tabs on the 26-year-old, but will not risk him if he's not 100 per cent come Saturday.

"We're assessing him daily, he's had a bit of stiffness in there, so we won't risk him if there's any doubt about it," the Welshman continued. "He was outside today, but we've got a strong enough squad that people can step in and that's why we've assembled the squad, that's why we've tried to keep all the squad right at it, and they've been a great group to me.

"Anytime we've made changes, they've had an impact. It's not just been a makeshift one coming in and trying to get through games, we've got ones who can really impact. We've got a big squad to choose from and then Collo is one that will be a late assessment."

Lee came on and made exactly the impact the Hatters had hoped for, as he scored from close range late on to give the Town the lead.

The former West Ham United forward's chances in the league have been limited due to the form of Collins and Danny Hylton, but he did his reputation no harm with his fine second half cameo.

Jones said: "I haven't recruited one and said to them, 'look, you've just got to play second fiddle,' there's real competition now. Danny Hylton and James Collins have played the majority of those games and have scored eight and nine respectively. Elliot when he's come on has done really well and the attitude he's shown means that when he gets the opportunity to play 45 the other day, it doesn't detract from the performance of the team.

"He comes on, he impacts, he's a different threat to James Collins, he's a different threat to Danny Hylton and to Harry Cornick. So we may not have a direct replacement for James Collins, but we have a different threat and they're four different strikers. Then with Jordan Cook and obviously Aaron Jarvis as well, who's still finding his feet, there's a good threat.

"They're all wanting to impact and that's the main thing as they'll all get their chance and they've got to take it and stay in the team. So Elliot took his chance, his really did."

After reaching the second round of the Emirates FA Cup with a fine 1-0 win over Portsmouth in which Town utilised a diamond in midfield, the gaffer is pleased with the flexibility of his side to adapt to different formations, given he has favoured a front three in recent months.

"We felt at Cheltenham we could get more penetration with the three. That might change at home, it might not change at home," he continued.

"Against Coventry at home we played the three, against Stevenage at home we played the three, we felt against Portsmouth we could hurt them in the diamond which we did. So we're proficient in two shapes, we work vehemently on two shapes, so that whenever we need to change them we do and it depends what we see right for certain games."


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