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Cox reflects on Villa encounter

17 July 2014

Boss happy with display against Premier League opponents.

Manager Paul Cox was pleased with our players’ performance in tonight’s entertaining pre-season friendly with Aston Villa at One Call Stadium.

Our team went ahead thanks to a close-range strike by Alex Fisher just before half-time, but Paul Lambert’s men fought back and won thanks to two goals by Darren Bent and Gary Gardner.

However, an entertaining match was soured by injuries to midfielder Fergus Bell and frontman Sam Clucas.

“For 60 minutes I was really happy with what we did tonight,” said our boss.

“A massive thank you [goes to] Paul [Lambert, Aston Villa manager] for bringing basically his full squad down [and playing] two strong teams against us.

“I thought in the first half we asked questions of them, caused them problems and looked like quite a strong, cohesive unit, but we lost Fergus Bell, Sam Clucas and we had to have a look at some of the trialists.

“I wanted to have a look at some of the babies and we finished the game with a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old in centre-midfield, both of whom came through the academy, so there are massive positives to be had.

“I know people will say ‘you’ve lost the game’, but I don’t get any points for winning a pre-season friendly and I wanted to find out about the kids because that’s what this club is going to be all about – bringing through the youth team.

“So there are massive positives tonight. I’m annoyed because we lost a football match, but I think that building into Saturday-Tuesday, we’re going to get (Adam) Murray, (Chris) Clements, (Lee) Beevers, (Ryan) Tafazolli, (Luke) Jones back.”

He added: “As long as we’re getting fitter, stronger and the boys are learning – that’s what I wanted today, where they’re put in stressful situations and under pressure and asked questions of – I’ll find something out about my players, which is a massive positive.”

On the injuries to Clucas and Bell, Cox continued: “He (Clucas) was limping along. Hopefully he’s not too bad and ‘Belly’ will be the same, but its early days yet. Both of them are very influential players for us and when we’ve got our structure and system we can cause problems for anyone.”

When asked if the duo could be okay to figure in Saturday’s match with Birmingham City, our boss said: “I’m hoping so, but if not, then we’re not going to take any chances.”

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