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Players must step up

Ardley issues challenge to injury-hit squad

23 September 2019

Neal Ardley has challenged his Notts County squad to step up and combat the loss of key players in the coming weeks.

Jim O’Brien was the latest to be added to the Magpies’ growing list of absentees after suffering a double fracture in his arm at Bromley on Saturday.

The midfielder joins the likes of Ben Turner and Sam Graham, who will miss the remainder of the season, in being sidelined through injury, while Michael Doyle has three more matches of his suspension left to serve.

With Notts travelling to Boreham Wood on Tuesday night, players who have had less involvement throughout the early weeks of the season may be called upon and Ardley wants to see them make an impact.  

“It’s a chance for the others to step up and say ‘we’ll take it from here’, said the boss. “I’ve set that challenge for them.

“We’ll learn more about the players who are trying to get into the team or haven’t had the game time they’d like.

“We need to put a 16-man squad out and one or two of those who have been on the fringes might be in the squad and on the field.”

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The boss feels Notts’ challenge will be made harder on Tuesday night due to the loss of key men, but hopes others raise their levels to maintain the standard of performance from recent weeks.

“Players have to step up for the sake of the team and produce what the missing boys were beginning to,” said Ardley.

“Jim, Ben and Doyler are big characters in the dressing room, so this group have got to set the standards and be in each other’s ears to get us through this sticky spell.

“The next two or three weeks will be tough so the rest of the lads need to step up and keep the points ticking over while we wait for players to return.”

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Ardley admits it was a blow to see his side suffer so many injury problems after finishing his business in the transfer market but did have some positive news to share.

“Having completed our incomings, a week ago I felt we were getting close to where we want to be and thought we could build momentum from there,” he explained.

“To lose so many is a blow, especially as they are the spine of the team, and it’s frustrating that they aren’t just little niggles.

“Ben has a grade one strain his calf and it’s a difficult one to put a timescale on but Sean Shields has trained Friday and Monday so he should make the trip to Boreham Wood.

“We’re hopeful Dion Kelly-Evans and Nathan Tyson will return to training towards the end of the week but Saturday’s game against AFC Fylde may come too soon.”

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