Full Stoke City press conference with praise for the underrated midfielder and the latest team news
Dean Holden has spoken to the media as Stoke City prepare for a midweek trip south to take on a Reading side who still need points to remain in the Championship. The assistant coach covered topics ranging from team news to the emergence of young players at Bet365 Stadium.
Stoke will be hoping to build on two wins and two clean sheets as they head to a Reading side for points
Holden: “It’s a game we’re looking forward to thanks to a few wins which have lifted our spirits and some clean sheets which is important. We had given too many chances before and we certainly tightened up.
“They’re a good team from Reading. It was only last season that they really got closer. They only lost a few players last summer, albeit in key positions, and they have real threats in the attacking areas with Swift, Ejaria and Lucas Joao, who I think is a very, very good player in this area. division. It will be a difficult game, they always are, but we can go there with confidence.
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Should he be satisfied with the arrival of Jordan Thompson on Saturday?
Holden: “Yeah absolutely. Bakes is a big miss because he’s brought so much to the team in terms of assists and goals and his overall quality and work ethic. We know what JT will give us and every time he enters the team he represents.
“He can often go unnoticed with the work he does, but he’s also a real quality player. Having players like that who can slot in at times is very, very important. You can see how it means for him to play for this club and he shows it in all his performances.”
You came out on the right side of a very tight game – how important is that for a very young team?
Holden: “Our goal is to go through the rest of this season and try to get as many positive results as possible. We all know where we are since Christmas and it hasn’t been at the level we expected. But you can only There will be plenty of time at the end of the season to digest the season as a whole, but as long as we have games ahead of us, it’s important to focus on that.
“Of course there’s a lot of planning going on for next season, but right now the focus is on that next game.”
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Is it good to have competition for places, like Campbell and Sawyers coming off the bench on Saturday?
Holden: “That’s exactly what you want. We’re really only missing Powelly and Harry at the moment when it comes to medium and long-term injuries. We’re hoping Bakes can finish training today and be available. Jaden will be training but we think tomorrow might be too soon for him in terms of being in the squad.
“Romaine Sawyers is a quality player, there’s no doubt about it. He’s had a few tough times since he’s been at the club but he’s a very good player and helps the guys around him a lot. He’s a deep thinker in terms of the game, almost a coach on the pitch in some cases.
“Tyrese really impressed me too when he came on. He was very direct in his game and he and Tymon scored the goal which is good to see.
“That’s what you expect especially from young players coming into the team, to really show what they do and go out and play with that freedom that you have at that age, not thinking about anything other than play. The more players we have like that leads to good performances.”
More injury news?
Holden: “There are always one or two issues but in terms of injuries it’s okay. We’ll see how some of them come out this afternoon for this training session. It’s a pretty light session 48 hours later a game but we’ll be well prepared for tomorrow. We’re going down with confidence now and looking to keep improving.”
It’s a young team, what did you learn as a young player playing alongside a first team?
Holden: “Those weren’t great days, huh? I can barely remember!
“You can see what that youth gives you. Will Forrester, for example, you can see what it means to him to be part of the team. He came to the academy from an early age and had the he opportunity to train with the first to stay in the practice squad is a big test for any player, and staying with the first team is always a real confidence booster.
“Will has been with us since he came back from injury. He had a tough time at Mansfield with injuries and now he’s around and competing for a place in the team. He’s been training brilliantly every days. He’s really engaged, you can see that.
“If you think back to the last game of last season, it was exceptional and there is a great future ahead of Will Forrester. It’s a credit to the work that has been done before to make talents like that manifest.”
You must have the wind in your sails working with younger players?
Holden: “Of course, and that’s important. If you look at the team as a whole, we have Chessie and Phil Jagielka at one end of the spectrum, then D’Margio, Demeaco, Jaden and Will, Tom Sparrow is another who joined the team recently.
“You watch senior players in how they prepare and recover from games, how they analyze their performance. It’s a good thing for a young player to watch Chessie and Jagielka who played at the highest level and learn really from them. It’s so invaluable. They do a lot of work for us as coaches on the pitch. We hope that leads to good performances now and good results.”