Ian Crook happy with progress

Ian Crook surveyed the aftermath of his own seasonal debut and declared himself happy with the progress of City's second-string players.

By CHRIS LAKEY

Ian Crook surveyed the aftermath of his own seasonal debut and declared himself happy with the progress of City's second-string players.

While the likes of Wes Hoolahan and Gary Doherty took most of the attention in Tuesday's 5-0 thrashing of Southend reserves, there were others who had a variety of reasons for wanting to impress not just reserve team boss Crook, but also the watching Paul Lambert and his assistant Ian Culverhouse.

In goal, Michael Theoklitos was making his first appearance since the opening day of the League One campaign when he let in seven goals. And while he had little to do, there was one instinctive save in time added on which turned the ironic cheers of the crowd into genuine applause for a job well done.


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“It was a good save,” said Crook, who revealed that the Aussie had undergone surgery, believed to be on his hip, before joining City in the summer.

“He needs the game. That's basically his third game in probably six or seven months and on the back of a major operation and with that still heavily weighed on his mind what happened against Colchester.

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“And with keepers as well - I've had games like he had, probably too many of them, but at the end of it where I played you got away with them. You don't get away with them when you're in goal so I'm glad he got 90 minutes under his belt.”

Some of the other fringe players will have benefited from a competitive run-out which the reserves didn't get last season when City pulled out of the Combination League.

“It's really important,” Crook said. “Chrissy Martin for instance came off and said, 'I really needed that tonight', because if you do find yourself out of the first team and you're not playing reserve team football on a regular basis, you soon lose fitness.

“They all put in a real good shift and it's really important that we all have games. We have three now in the next three weeks. “We have then got a bit of a break, so we will try and get one or two in that time, against good opposition as well.

“If you do find yourself out of the team - injury, not being fancied by the gaffer at the time or basically not good enough, one of those three things - there is always a likelihood you are going to get called on.

“Let's be truthful here - once you've played in the first team in front of 25,000 here do you really want to come back and play here on a Wednesday night with only a few hundred here? No. But it is a necessary evil, you have to do it just to keep your fitness levels up so that when you do get the call to go back in you've given yourself the best chance of staying in.”

City fielded a strong and experienced team on Tuesday, but it did include young full-backs Sam Habergham and George Francomb, central defender and skipper David Stephens and a subs' bench composed of five academy products.

“They've been excellent right the way from day one since I've come here, the younger boys,” said Crook. “The Korey Smiths, the Adeyemis, along with the Habers, Dario Dumic, Dave Stephens, Declan Rudd - all of these boys have come in at some stage or another within the reserves and there is a bit of a future there for all of them - if they keep their heads screwed on and they work hard.”

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