Michael Skubala Makes Important Observation On Imps’ Squad

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City go into tomorrow’s game with Leyton Orient knowing a win will keep the play-off dream alive through the Easter weekend and beyond.

In a season dogged by injuries and availability problems, Michael Skubala’s side have come from nowhere to be serious promotion contenders. However, having played much of the season without a dedicated striker, we now face the prospect of a big game without a trio of key central midfielders. Ethan Hamilton is out for the season, and loanee Conor McGrandles suffered the same fate. Now, with Ethan Erhahon’s sending-off against Bristol Rovers, we’re going to have a makeshift midfield for Orient’s visit.

However, in his pre-match interview, our head coach explained that so-called fringe players outside the starting XI are just as important as those who do start, and that will certainly help as we face off against Orient.

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“You don’t win leagues, and you don’t get points, and you don’t get results with 11 players. I think modern football has changed. I think playing eleven players and finishing with eleven is gone,” said Skubala, the current hot name amongst League One coaches.

“You need the numbers, you need the extra players, the competitiveness of the group, the training mentality. And when they come in and have to do a job, they do it to the best of their ability.

“(They) keep the shirt if they do well, and if they don’t do well, then there’s someone ready to take that shirt. That’s the nature of the business.

“I’ve been really pleased with all the players. And again, I think they know I put my trust in them to do the job. And they reward that trust with good performances.”

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Reflecting on how that relates to Erhahon, serving his second one-match ban of the season, Skubala said: “Ethan’s been great for us this season and one of the challenges, and the bumps in the road is not having Ethan in there who’s been quite natural there all season. So now we have to jiggle the midfield

“But again, the players coming in there are good players; they’re experienced some of them. I have no worries about players taking on the role that Ethan was doing. In some ways it gives Ethan the rest.”

“I think in these situations, it’s how well the group gets over those bumps in the road that dictates how well you do.”

What that looks like in real terms is open to discussion. There’s every chance we’ll see Jack Burroughs come into the midfield, as he has played the holding role before. However, Danny Mandroiu has impressed in recent weeks and shown a willingness to battle in the same role. Ted Bishop is another who has been outstanding, and Jack Moylan has excelled a little further forward.

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There’s also Lasse, who played midfield when he came to the club, and even Ben House, another who was preferred in the middle of the park at the beginning of last season. However, House’s involvement is likely to be limited – he is expected to return to the side after going off during the 6-0 win against Cambridge United, but perhaps from the bench, as we look to integrate him gently back into the team.