Redditch United boss, Paul Smith, hailed the application and the work rate of his players following the CSS League Cup victory over Halesowen Town on Tuesday evening and urged them to show the same performance against Tamworth on Saturday (3pm KO).
The Reds visit The Lambs – the club’s third consecutive away game in the Evo-Stik South – Premier Division Central – looking for Smith’s first league victory, and the boss believes confidence in the squad is growing following the 2-1 victory in midweek:
“I was chuffed for the players because they’ve worked hard and bought into what my staff and I are trying to do here at the club. Fitness levels have improved greatly, so to score as late as we did was particularly satisfying.
“The belief is there, and with the additions that we’ve made, the group is in a good place at the moment. I am hopeful the commitment and performance levels will be replicated on Saturday, as it’s another tough game for us.”
Smith said Tamworth, now managed by Dennis Greene following his appointment in September, would be “desperate for the win” to kick-start their season and would be difficult opponents due to the number of new signings they’ve made and the backing of the home faithful.
This week, The Reds announced two signings of their own – goalkeeper Reece Francis and defender Andy Parsons – and Smith believes he is “very close” to having the settled squad he wants:
“It’s been clear from the start of my tenure that I have wanted to bring in players, and while many have left also, I believe we have brought in some quality additions. It’s vital to have a good squad of 17 or 18 players, as games come thick and fast, and players that aren’t in the starting line-up on Saturday must be prepared for either a midweek game or the following Saturday.
“The players know that everyone will be utilised throughout the season, and they’ve bought into that which is vital for squad harmony.”
One player that Smith is keen to tie down to a longer deal at the club is centre-back, Ed Wagner, who initially joined the club on loan from Kidderminster Harriers. The boss confirmed that positive talks had taken place between all parties and an extension of the loan was “likely”.
On Wagner, Smith said: “He’s been colossus for us; at a time when the defence was leaking goals, he came in and steadied things – he’s been fantastic and exactly what we needed. He demonstrated his qualities during a ‘man of the match’ performance against Halesowen.”
Wagner, Francis and Parsons will all be available to face Tamworth on Saturday, as will Rob Evans after overcoming his injury; however, Ben Pierce is out after breaking a bone in his foot on Tuesday night and Nyeko Sinclair is a major doubt after sustaining a dead leg in the same fixture.
There is some welcome news for Tim Fishwick; the long-term absentee has now returned to training, but Saturday’s game has come too early for the defender.
Updated 10:19 - 11 Oct 2018 by Tom Henman