Manager Steve Bruce has been previewing the clash against Derby County this weekend and ruled out a move for Lewis Grabban in the January window.
Speaking to the Official Site as he met with the media earlier today, Bruce reflected on the boredraw with Millwall and he knew we had to perform better than that this weekend.
‘We will have to play better at Derby, that`s for sure. We found it very difficult. Millwall are big, aggressive and ask you questions and play in a certain style. But, when you analyse it, we were without our big, aggressive players – Jedinak, Terry, Kodjia to name three. It was a bit of a struggle for us. However, that`s what the Championship is. It`s another big test this weekend against a very good Derby team, who are top of the table in the form stakes. It`s a big occasion, big game, big crowd – just what you look forward to.’
Bruce went on to say the players themselves were disappointed with the performance so he’s looking for them to make a point as well.
‘Look, they were disappointed that they didn`t play so well. We`d all like to be like Man City and blow teams away. Looking at it, we`re heading into Christmas now and who`d have backed Cardiff, Bristol City and Sheffield United to be in the top six? No disrespect to those clubs, they have done fantastically well – but that`s the beauty of the Championship. No-one can predict it – that`s how difficult it is.’
With Sam Johnstone keeping us in the Millwall clash almost single handedly, he came in for praise.
‘I have said it many, many times that players – when they get to a certain age – have to play. We are all aware of Sam`s ability – and he`s just got better and better. Playing week-in and week-out has certainly helped Sam Johnstone become a very good goalkeeper. We are doing our best to keep him if we can. We`d love him to stay. I know he`s very, very happy at the club and he enjoys playing week-in and week-out, which is the most important thing.’
There’s also progress for John Terry as he continues his rehabilitation from injury.
‘JT had a scan on Monday. Everything is in order. We are delighted with the progress. He`s bang on for when we thought and we hope in another couple of weeks he will be back on the pitch in some capacity.’
There was also an update on Andre Green.
‘Andre is fine – doing everything we expected from him. We are hoping he will join in with us on Monday or Tuesday. But obviously we have to box clever because it was an operation on his hamstring as a young player. But it`s great to have him back in and around it.’
Giving an injury update, Bruce confirmed that Chris Samba would miss the next month with his hamstring injury and we’re likely to be without Henri Lansbury and Alan Hutton as well.
‘Chris Samba will miss a month. He`s got a bad hamstring. He had to come off against Millwall. Henri Lansbury is sore. He struggled towards the end of the game against Millwall. I don`t think he will make it. Alan Hutton picked up a knock in training on Thursday crossing a ball. I don`t think he will make it. So our plans from 24/48 hours ago have been ripped up and we will see what we have today. But Mile Jedinak has trained. He`s been out there for the last week. Gabriel Agbonlahor has trained for the last two weeks. Scott Hogan has also trained for the past week. They will all be involved somewhere.’
As for the challenge Derby will pose us.
‘They will pose a very big challenge. They have some very good players and, as a football club, they have been there or thereabouts but not quite made it. Gary has done an excellent job. We know what to expect from a side managed by Gary – we know what he demands. So it will be a very good game at the top end of the Championship – one to look forward to.’
‘Touch wood, I haven`t done too badly there in the past. Let`s hope that continues. We have big games coming up. If you look at it, by the turn of the year, we will have been away to all the top eight, which is good that we have all of them to play at home. It`s a big, important month coming up – it couldn`t have been more difficult over a crazy period of time. It`s an important period coming up.’
As for links to Grabban, Bruce is quoted by the Birmingham Mail as rubbishing that speculation because he’s already said he’s looking at loans in January.
“I have said for three months I am looking at loans. How can I be linked with Lewis Grabban? I haven`t got the money. Put a line through it.”
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