I’ve been lucky enough to get an hour with Michael Appleton today, to discuss the squad, the upcoming season and everything in between.
It was a relaxed atmosphere that greeted me at the EPC this morning, the sun shone bright and the players seemed in great spirits. There’s always a good feel up there, although to be fair I wasn’t there the Monday after we lost at home to Rochdale.
I’ll try to get as much of the interview out over the coming days as I can, but I wanted to drop three today. One aspect of the squad that interested me was Max Melbourne. The 22-y/o went out on loan to Walsall in January, and was told he could find another club over the summer. Despite that, he’s played in most of the pre-season matches and appears to be very much a part of Michael’s plans, which the boss confirmed to me. I asked if Max was part of his plans, and whether it had been a surprise how he’d done in pre-season.
“Absolutely. Sometimes as a manager, you can’t foresee everything or see what’s going to happen,” he said. “Max has recognised there’s half a chance here, with injuries and not quite having enough in the building, and he knows he’s got an opportunity. So far, he’s applied himself well, his attitude has been good and it’s up to him now. As it stands at this moment in time, I can’t ask any more of him.”
Max is one of the players who has gone out on loan and come back with a glowing report and Michael confirmed that far from being the end of the road, a spell away is a chance for players to show what they can do.
“It’s no different to Theo (Archibald) going out on loan; the emphasis is for them to come back stronger. If it wasn’t, you’d make it clear it was a loan to go permanently; I’ve always been upfront with players in that respect. I want players to go away from here and prove they can be part of the group. If they do that, you can argue we’ve done our job because we’ve got that reaction from them.
“Max went to Walsall and did well. We had him watched regularly and spoke to the managers and coaches involved there, as he had a couple, and they were all happy with him, so it’s up to him now.”
With the big kick-off just a couple of days away, and our two left-sided centre backs both struggling (Roughan and Walsh), it seems the former West Brom man might be the surprise package of pre-season who could play a big role in the campaign.