Manager looks at squad fitness before PrestonRoyals boss Jaap Stam gave us an update on squad availability ahead of the new campaign… with Preston providing our first opposition of the season, the gaffer is optimistic of welcoming back a few players into the fold after knocks and niggles caused absences during pre-season.
A few players will still remain sidelined for the opening weekend, but the gaffer is hopeful these will only be short-term.
“Yann Kermorgant has been training with us this week, and Garath McCleary is in the squad with us again, training,” said Stam. “Danzell Gravenberch is also fit, back with the squad.
“Joseph Mendes is not fit yet; he has been training on the pitch but not with the squad. He’s getting close, but we can’t rush things – if you talk to him he says he’s feeling okay, but he has said that a lot throughout pre-season and sometimes you need to slow a bit him down and get him fully fit. He had a scan, a small thing with a muscle in his hip, not a major thing, but hopefully next week he will train with the squad. Dominic Samuel is still out with his knee as well, and he’ll be out for another two or three weeks.
“When Stephen Quinn came back and started training with us, he had a problem with his knee. They’re going to have a couple of scans with him and have a look. It’s an old injury that he had last season, so we need to take care of him.
“Yakou Meite has been training with the squad and doing quite well. Because he hasn’t been training with a team before us, we need to take care with him because he has told me a couple of times he’s fit and ready for it, but these youngsters – especially with the quality he has as he’s very explosive player, very quick – if you’re going to rush him into things then there is a greater chance of hurting him and getting him and injury instead of getting him fit.”
Saturday’s match against the Lilywhites will be the first time the new Royals boss has selected a matchday squad in the Championship… while some players will necessarily miss the cut this weekend, he insists that everyone will have a role to play across the course of a long and gruelling season.
“Everybody knows that we have got a lot of games to play – I’m not the type of manager that is going to pick an XI and then they’ll play 40 or 50 games in the season,” he continued. “We need everybody. The game that we play on Saturday can be totally different to the next game, so I think everybody is going to make their minutes.
“If you’re playing football, you want to achieve something as a group – not the first XI, but the whole group. Everyone knows what their task is; sometimes players get disappointed, but they need to be ready if they come on or if they are going to play in the next game.
“The players who aren’t playing are very important for the team, in the sense of coming on and being decisive when they do and making a difference. But also if they perform well in training and better than the person who is playing in their position on the pitch, there is a big chance that they will play in the next game.
“That’s how it works. We have to keep each other sharp and keep each other on their toes.”