Speaking to the press ahead of this weekend’s trip to Stoke City, Lee Bowyer gave his verdict on the transfer window, the new players gelling, a shortening injury list and the game at the bet365 Stadium.
Below are some of the talking points…
On the transfer window just gone…
“I’m relieved because we still have Lyle [Taylor], I think it was important that we kept hold of him. Now we can concentrate with the group we have and we all know where we stand and what we have to do. So, I was happy that the window closed. You just never knew what was going to happen.
"Lyle’s a good player and there were clubs interested in him, we knew that from the summer. I was worried about that because everyone can see how important he is to us and so to lose him in the January transfer window would have been hard to take. It happened to us last year with Karlan Grant and we didn’t want history to repeat itself."
On bedding in the new additions to the squad…
"It will take some longer than others. Matt [Smith] is a young lad. Coming to a different club in the January transfer window is hard, I know myself. You have to try and find your feet and settle in quickly. It’s easier when you’re an experienced player like Aiden McGeady or David Davis. For Matt it might take a little longer."
On players coming back and those still in the treatment room…
"We’re in a much better position than we were in the past few months. The ones that are coming back, because they were out for so long, it’s just difficult for them to play 90 minutes. We have to be careful with them because we’ve got a lot of games this month and so bringing in the extra bodies has helped.
"It makes my job harder, if you like, regarding the selection of the squad, but I’d rather have that problem than be having to duck and dive to even put an 11 together."
"Chuks Aneke is doing well but we have to get his fitness up, because in possession he does well but there’s more to the game than that. Plus, he’s playing against young lads [in U23 football], he can move them out the way. It’s not important how many goals he scores and what he does there. The most important thing is that he gets his fitness up.
"It’s difficult with Lewis Page. I feel for him because he’s working so hard to get back. He was training with us for six weeks and we purposely didn’t put him into the U23s games before Christmas because we thought we’d keep him out of it and not put him in too early. He’d already had a month’s training before that. There’s no point rushing him back, just let him train with us and get his fitness with us. Our training intensity is good. So, we though if we can get about 6-7 weeks training into him, he should be ready to play a game.
"But, unfortunately, he broke down again. It’s hard for him. The lad was in bits and I feel for him. Because unfortunately everyone’s bodies are different and Lewis is finding it tough to keep coming back and be fit. Unfortunately, that’s just the way his body is at the moment and we're trying to find ways around it but I don’t know what is going to happen with him.
"I’ve sent him away to clear his head and he’ll come back and try again and hopefully for us and for himself he can stay fit this time.
"Deji [Oshilaja] rolled his ankle last Thursday, so he’s not going to be in the squad."
On the upcoming game against Stoke…
"No game is bigger than the one before or the one after it. They’re all big games and no will give you points in this division. It’s hard because, again, we’re going to a team like Stoke who are littered with Premier League players.
"They’re not going to give us three points, we’re going to have to work hard for it. If we do that, compete, do what we’re good at and move the ball quickly then we will always have a chance. We’ve got people up top who can hurt teams. So, as long as we do the other side of the game well then we have got a good chance of winning."