Lee Bowyer sat down with the press ahead of Sunday’s game against Preston North End to talk about the match, the squad’s fitness levels, the challenge Preston pose, fitness levels, injuries and his side's work ethic
Below are some of the talking points…
“They’re a good side. The manager has done a good job there and he’s made sure that they have become a good Championship side. They’re sitting in second and deservedly so. Every point in this division, you have to earn.
“They score a lot of goals and they’ve got players that can hurt you in different areas. They’re good defensively and they’re good in possession."
On the team’s fitness levels...
“Last season, that was a big part in us getting promotion Our fitness was better than the other teams that we had played. We always finished the stronger side, hence the reason why we scored a lot of late goals.
“This season, for me, we’ve had to go up a step and our fitness is a different level to what it was last year. So, we had to improve on that, and we have done. We’ve scored a few late goals this season and did last weekend again, in injury time.
“We keep going and we keep fighting until the end. This weekend is going to be a good game, it’s going to be a tough game. It’s two good teams that are playing a game of football and they both want to win.”
On Lyle Talyor and other injuries
“We were hoping that Lyle [Taylor] would maybe train this week and be on the bench this weekend but it’s just come a bit too soon. That was our hope last week when he came out of the brace, but he’s had a bit of a setback. So, he’s not going to be available this weekend.
“Lewis Page has been out for over a year, he trained Wednesday for the first day so he’s nowhere near it. He’s got to play U23 games before he comes anywhere near us. He’s miles away."
On the defence's work ethic...
“Well, Jason Pearce is my captain. He would jump in front of a bus if you asked him to! He puts his body in places that he probably shouldn’t.
“Obviously, we've got Tom [Lockyer] in over the summer and he’s settled in really well, quicker than we thought he would.
“And Naby [Sarr] is just improving every game. He’s working so hard at his game and now, his physical side of the game he’s getting better at. That wasn’t his strength, his strength was his possession but now he’s getting better and better.
“So, whoever is playing they’re all doing well. I rotate them as best I can to try and save them a bit. So, again, whoever is playing, I know that they’re going to give me 100 percent and put their body on the line. As a defender that’s the most important thing.
From back to front, everybody gives everything. I know that my team is going to do that as individuals, because they know that if they don’t, then they won’t play.”
On the early kick-off time and being on TV…
"A game’s a game innit? It’s 90 minutes, it doesn’t matter what day its on, it could be on a Monday or a Tuesday at 2:30 it makes no difference. It’s a game of football and all that’s at stake is three points. For me it makes no difference apart from we’ve got to get up early."