Bit of a mix and match today from manager Tim Sherwood’s pre Stoke press conference.
Audio – Sherwood Ahead Of Stoke
The Official Site have him talking about Jores Okore and the boost that he will be to centre half options moving forward when he’s fully fit again.
Having last played for the first team back in the Arsenal FA Cup loss last season, Okore underwent surgery this summer on his knee with Sherwood describing him as playing on ‘one leg’ and he of course returned to action in the recent Under 21 loss to West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
The gaffer explained he was only supposed to get 45 minutes to bring him on, but the 22 year old wouldn’t come off!
‘It’s good news for Jores. I am pleased for him, first and foremost, because he’s such a great lad. He played on one leg for the cause last season. He wasn’t fit. But now hopefully we can get him training on a regular basis and playing some games – get into a rhythm of playing – and then it will be onwards and upwards for him. You want to look players in the eye and know what you’re going to get. He’s 100% all of the time. If he makes mistakes, they will be honest ones.’
Sherwood went on to add about the recent Development Squad game that.
‘The plan was for him to play 45 minutes on Monday but the guy is such a warrior, you have to drag him off the field. No-one was brave enough to drag him off. It was fantastic for him – and for the club. After the international break, we will get a couple more games into him and then he will be ready to go, I hope.’
As for Jack Grealish and his decision to opt for England over the Republic of Ireland, Sherwood was obviously tasked with that question and the Birmingham Mail carry the following.
‘Jack’s made the decision because he feels it’s the country of his birth and it’s right for him. He’s not playing for England unless he’s playing well for Villa. That’s the same for every player. Jack missed the whole of pre-season. During the last international break, he was injured. We’ll use this break for him to train and work hard.’
It was also revealed that Sherwood blocked him from going to train with England this international break when Roy Hodgson requested he join up with them – international clearance aside I assume – so we could focus on getting him right.
‘If he was called up for the squad then he’d be going, but he wasn’t. Roy asked me if he could take him, just invite him there to introduce him to the boys and get a feel for St George’s Park. But I thought it was better for him to stay here and work hard and we’ll use this time to get him fit for the remainder of the season. He won’t be alone there will be a few of the boys doing exactly the same. He needs to get some consistency in his performances for Aston Villa first.’
With Idrissa Gana passed fit for the game against Stoke following his own injury, Sherwood said of him.
‘Idrissa is fully fit, he’s had a bit of treatment this week on his hamstring. It’s still niggling away at him, but we’re hoping that he’ll be fine.’
Adama Traore still needs to be assessed late though as he is a doubt.
‘Adama Traore is struggling, he played for the U21s on Monday he was limping one minute and fine the next. I’ve had a chat with him, just to say we need to find out if you’re fit mate and make a decision based on that. I spoke to him this morning and we’ll find out how he goes today.’
Sherwood did say that unless they were 100% about him though he wouldn’t be risked as it was important because of the type of player that he is that he’s in peak shape.
‘He had an ankle injury he picked up against Notts County from a bad tackle that night. But he’s got to get used to that. Unfortunately it took a little bit longer than what we thought. He’s come back and he still feels it a wee bit. We can’t take any risks with him. We want to make sure he’s 100 per cent right.’
Moving onto Rudy Gestede and his brace in the game against Liverpool, Sherwood now saw the positives.
‘Rudy would have preferred us to win the game but it was great for him to score two good goals at Anfield. He needs to continue to do that and I’m sure good results will come. I believe Rudy can do it. He has the belief of his manager and for Rudy to score goals in a team struggling to win shows his ability. Rudy’s an important part of what we’re trying to do here. He’s a player who can score goals in the Premier League. Sinclair can score, Gabby’s carrying an injury so Rudy is crucial.’
As for the overall season there was a slight change in tact given his earlier words about this season just being about staying in the league compared to last season’s words of never being in a relegation battle under him as well.
Clearly the in the moment emotion of the last match had evaporated.
‘I know the job comes with pressure – that’s part and parcel of it. I’ll stand up as manager and the players must stand up as players. It’s my job with the group of players we have to make sure we get up the league. It’s too early to put us in a relegation battle. It’s not what we wanted for the return of points. We’re a young group, a new group. I’m confident we’ll be okay.’
Sherwood says it is different when you’re a player though, because in the position of manager you are ‘managing expectations’ and he nodded to social media making things a lot more instant and difficult than it was a decade ago.
‘The players are all ears, they look you in the eye and they want to continue to develop. But it’s all right doing it in training. There’s a lot of good training-ground footballers. When the pressure’s on you’ve got to be able to apply yourself on the pitch when the expectancy of a very big club is on your shoulders. That remains to be seen. I’m going to have to learn about those individuals as we go along. But they need to.’
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