Hatters are fighting fit for their first-ever visit to the Hive
Fighting fit Hatters have no new injury worries ahead of their first-ever visit to the Hive to take on Barnet on Boxing Day, writes Mark Wood.
Town came through Saturday’s confidence-boosting 4-2 win over Gateshead unscathed, but don’t have any more options than they had that day.
Boss John Still said: “No new ones and no-one’s coming into the squad from injury. Everyone’s OK that was OK, the injured ones are coming on quite well, quite nicely, but not available at the moment.”
It’s the second instalment in a busy run of fixtures that will see Town play five games in 15 days, including facing the Bees on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day in a traditional festive double header.
But that was of no concern to former Barnet boss Still, who said: “It don’t bother me, it’s 11 against 11 isn’t it, just shirt changes, home and away.
“Will we learn a bit more about Barnet after playing them, well we know enough about them now I think already and they probably know enough about us, so I wouldn’t really think that that will affect us.”
It’s a testing festive feast that will also see Town pit their wits against fellow former Football League sides Kidderminster Harriers and Lincoln City.
And Still believes these games will help to bring the best out of his players and make them even better.
He continued: “The games at the moment I think are fantastic. I think this Christmas period, Gateshead, Kidderminster and Barnet twice, I think it’s fantastic.
“This is what it’s all about. Players have got to be tested. You’ve got to test yourself and sometimes you are playing against a team whose league form’s not good, league position’s not good and you can lose a little bit of focus.
“You can’t lose focus in these games and players become better players by playing with and against the best, and this is how a lot of these players will improve, by testing themselves against the best.”
And Still was confident that his side wouldn’t be forced into any changes for Thursday’s game, but admitted there was less rest for the following match against Harriers.
He said: “We look at every game and it’s where players are. We judge their fitness so we can see how much is taken out of them and if we feel we have to make a change then we’ll make a change, but you’re not going to change just for changing’s, sake you change for a reason.
“And we’ll just judge every game on its merit at the moment. We looked fit and strong on Saturday, we’ll have a little look today (Monday) and see how we are and we’ll train again tomorrow.
“Saturday to Thursday is a reasonable recovery time, less recovery time Thursday to Saturday so maybe we’ll have another look at that.”
But he’s keen to keep an eye on his players’ fitness levels so they don’t run of steam.
“I think if our players are fit, I think you can see in games if people are running out of a bit of petrol and might need a little bit of a rest, but we looked fit and strong on Saturday, really fit, really strong,” he said.
“And there’s a reasonable amount of rest before Thursday. I think it might be more between Thursday and Saturday than maybe between the game on Saturday and the game coming up.
“I just think between now and Thursday’s a good rest, but between Thursday and Saturday’s there’s not so much rest. So we’ll judge it really game by game.”
And Still wouldn’t have no qualms with making changes if needed and would expect the replacements to be just as good as those ahead of them in the pecking order.
He added: “I’ve got no problems with make a change at all if we think it’s the right thing to do.
“The people that come in, never a problem in terms of can they do the job. Anyone really that we bring in is capable of doing the job equally as well as the people that are in there.
“It’s important for some players not to lose form, because you start to lose a bit of form someone else comes in and it’s difficult to get your place back, so that’s important.”