With Aston Villa exiting this seasons League Cup following a two nil defeat to Middlesbrough yesterday evening, manager Steve Bruce looks at the bigger picture.
It was all change in the starting line up again with only really a handful of players from what we’d now call our accepted first team, but Tommy Elphick’s frustration at having a goal ruled out wrongly was compounded when he was sent off with a double booking and Patrick Bamford took advantage of the extra number in the second half to book their place in round four.
Speaking to the Official Site as he met with the media following the game, whilst Bruce knew it wasn’t a classic in any sense of the word, he knew we were in it for large periods and more importantly how the big decisions went against us and turned the game in their favour.
Discussing the disallowed goal and the sending off, Bruce said.
‘We`ve had a big decision go against us tonight – it`s clearly onside when you watch it back. And Elphick`s subsequent sending off…I`ve got no complaints over Tommy`s red card. It was a reckless challenge. He can`t go to ground in that situation. That mistake changed the whole game – it becomes difficult when they score and we`re down to 10 men and have to try and chase it.’
One thing he would take from the competition this season was the introduction of the youngsters and the way they have stepped up to the plate – and in many cases embarrassed their so called professional colleagues.
Whilst Bruce didn’t say that, he did comment.
‘The big plus of this competition has been the emergence of the young players. I`ve given them a platform that can only stand them in good stead. Over the coming months we might need a few of these youngsters, who`ve proved that they`re good players at this level. It`s important for them and to keep a squad happy you`ve got to play the ones that are knocking on my door. There`s been a few players doing it regularly – itching to get a start. It was obvious that some of them needed a game. It`s ok training and playing behind closed doors but this was a big game for them. It was obvious that some of them were a bit off the pace, but I`m particularly pleased about the young lads.’
With attentions now switching fully back to the Championship for a bit.
‘We know what the most important thing is for us – we know we have to mount a challenge in this division. I`ve purposely kept the XI from Barnsley back and haven`t risked any of them. I can prepare them as I have all week for the challenge ahead on Saturday. We`ve got a big week coming up – a huge week. Before the next international break we need to take the form we showed against Barnsley forward.’
So with Nottingham Forest next up, how do we stand on the injury front?
‘Mile Jedinak unfortunately is feeling his groin. Henri Lansbury has tweaked his knee and Scott Hogan complained of something wrong with his ankle and foot tonight. We`ll see how they are – it`s a bit early to report anything yet.’
With Jack Grealish’s return.
‘He`s back around the training ground and doing a little bit of running. We welcome him back – it`s good to see him. But there`s still a long way to go for him.’
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