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Michael O’Neill on formation, transfers and injury news in press conference ahead of Gillingham clash

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Is there a temptation to play Mikel and Fletcher, with their experience, to get them up to speed?

MON: We have to be mindful of where they are. Both haven’t really played since March. Steven picked up a little calf problem which meant he wasn’t available for the Leeds and Newcastle games. John played in both those games.

They just need minutes, those players. They are both in good physical condition and need minutes but we have to manage them through this process, with mid-week games as well.

I’ve been pleased with their contributions to date and hopefully over time, by the end of the month, we won’t have to manage them as much as we do at this minute in time.

There are other players in the group who we have to manage on that basis as well. We’ve given league starts to the likes of Clucas and Powell and given cup games to Oakley-Boothe and Tymon. They are all situations we have to deal with.

I think, for me, that by playing younger players I don’t feel like I am weakening the team. I certainly don’t want that to be the case nor for younger players to think it.

I want them to give me a problem selection wise and put pressure on the players we’ve been picking to date.

With Fletcher and Obi Mikel, by playing them in the right games they will get up to speed quickly.




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