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Steve Watson prepares for Yorkshire derby

By Dan Simmonite | 24th December 2020

Steve Watson is preparing for the team’s first outing on an artificial surface this season as City take on Bradford (Park Avenue) in a local Boxing Day derby match.

Speaking on the fixture, Watson said: “We’ve trained twice this week at York St John. We actually tried to book Bradford Park Avenue’s pitch but I think they cottoned onto us, so we were unable to do that in the end.

“But we’ve done everything we can to try and prepare properly for the game. It’s one of those games where you have to accept that there’s certain players who struggle, you’ll see it in every facet of football, they don’t respond well to 3G for some reasons even though [the pitches] are better than they’ve ever been.

“We’ve also got to think about the fact we have to play two days after that and on the 2nd as well. So we are looking at the type of team we put out regarding the surface I suppose as well as all the homework we’ve done on the opposition that we usually do and I’ve watched their last game so that comes into the equation as well.

“There’s nothing that this pitch or any other pitch will throw at us – we want to be successful and we want to get promoted and we will have to take any pitch and any opposition on - so there’s no real excuses.”

City haven’t had the best of luck with injuries to start the season with the likes of Harry Bunn, Michael Duckworth, Scott Barrow and Owen Gamble all missing games due to knocks. But Watson is pleased his team are on the road to recovery and a full-strength side should be available going into the busy January period.

He said: “We’ve only had Owen Gamble missing from training today. In that respect, the time between the games has helped the injuries.

“Michael Duckworth and Josh King are closer to being involved on Boxing Day and, if not Boxing Day, on the 28th.

“Desperately unlucky, Owen’s been. He’s come off the back of a calf injury, then first game back pulled his hamstring pretty badly.

“We could be looking at a similar amount of time as Michael Duckworth. He’s going to be out of action, I would suggest, until the middle of January.

“The way it happened with Owen, we wanted him straight back in. The game against Southport, I thought, was one of the best performances of the season.

“But we have to couple that with not rushing people back.

“As tempting as it is to play people like Michael - who’s trained with us for over a week, but he’s no match fitness really - in the back of your mind is not rushing people back - it’s a happy medium we need to find.”

The Manager also touched upon the FA Trophy exit last week, in which the team lost out on penalties to Ashton United.

Watson added: “The main thing about it was that we were desperately trying to succeed in the cup. It was a big deal to us. It’s a chance to take a team to Wembley. That’s a dream as a manager. It was bitterly disappointing.

“All we can do is make sure we learn our lessons from it. In no way, shape or form did we want that to happen, but if that can give us a kick going into this six-week spell, which is season-defining really, hopefully that can be a catalyst for a fantastic run for us.

“We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience and I think the lads will respond to that. That’s why I put this squad together, to try and get promoted. Nothing has changed in that respect.

“I just think we made match decisions on the night that were unlike us and I think we’ll learn from that, definitely.”

The Boxing Day fixture kicks off at 3pm behind closed doors at the Horsfall Stadium in Bradford, with the home club planning a livestream for supporters – details are to be announced.

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