SW Exclusive: Michael Appleton reveals the core benefits of two-week lay-off ahead of Burton clash

Courtesy Graham Burrell

With much of the focus of the press conference centred on the benefit of having a prolonged break, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the mainstream press had missed something really important.

We have a new manager here, or relatively new at least, who is a renowned coach. He’s worked under the likes of Roy Hodgson, a world-class manager (no sniggering, he is), as well as other legends such as Sir Alex Ferguson. He’s coached players right at the top of the game and his strengths are undoubtedly on the turf, getting ideas and patterns of play into the squad.

The two-week lay-off might have given injured players a chance to recuperate and rest, but surely that time has been of huge benefit to Michael Appleton from a coaching point of view?

“I think so. The first couple of months I’ve been doing that anyway so it’s nothing different but what the last couple of weeks has allowed is the opportunity to really focus on us and not what we’re about to face at the weekend,” he said, when I put the question to him.

“You normally have to focus on the opposition, their strengths and weaknesses in the build-up to a game, but these last couple of weeks have allowed a focus on us, what we do in possession and how we move the ball in different areas of the pitch.”

That should hopefully reap some rewards this afternoon as we face a tough trip to Burton Albion, a side we’ve never beaten. Michael certainly believes the players have responded, given their reactions.

“It’s been very good,” he concluded. “The players have been really responsive, and I get the impression they’ve enjoyed it from the figures we’ve been hitting and how hard they’ve been working, so hopefully we’ll reap the benefits of that this afternoon.”

The Imps have only travelled to Burton twice, losing 1-0 to a Cleveland Taylor goal in 2009/10 and 3-1 in March 2001 with Ashley Grimes bagging our only goal. That goal is the only one we’ve bagged in four encounters with the Brewers, having been held 0-0 at home in 2009/10 and losing 2-0 the following season.

No pressure then Michael!