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Close encouraged by Rovers squad progress under Schofield

16 March 2023

Interviews

Close encouraged by Rovers squad progress under Schofield

16 March 2023

Ben Close believes the Rovers squad are all better players for the coaching work of Danny Schofield and his staff since his appointment at the club.

Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday’s trip to Salford City, Close said there has been noticeable improvement in the players under Schofield’s stewardship and only expects the team to grow stronger.

Close on the test of Salford:

“There’s been games where we’ve won and lost against teams higher up in the league and the same against teams lower than us. It’s not about just turning up on Saturday because they’re a play-off team, we have to do it every single game and that’s the test now.

“Every game presents different challenges. If we turn up and we’re at our best, I think we have a good chance against anyone. If we’re not at our best, we’re going to get turned over.

“With ten or 11 games left, there’s a real chance to show what we’re all about.”

On the direction under Danny Schofield:

“I think anything in football takes time. If you’re trying to really change something at a club, it’s going to take time. That’s what’s happening here. We’re trying to play a certain brand of football with certain player profiles and I think that takes time.

“We’ve got a group here that have learned a lot this season and it’s only going to help us going forward. The same players next season will be better players for what they’ve learned and taken in. This kind of thing takes time and some transfer windows as well but I think it’s an exciting time for the club.

“Too much change is going to slow everything down again and you need a strong group of players and staff to take the ideas forward and really set the standards in training every day and in games at the weekend. The longer you can keep that group together, the better chance of success you have.

“Certain performances have been excellent and it’s the consistency we’re looking for. Every day in training, on and off the pitch, we’re learning about the game and developing as people and leaders. I’m looking at the other lads enjoying training and certainly getting better.

“I think there’s just a whole emphasis on developing people as players and people. The more you people jumping from one standard to another, you’re developing leaders. The likes of myself and other lads my age have to look at that and realise we’re now some of the older lads in the squad and we need to develop our leadership skills.”

On his determination to play at a higher level once again:

“I’ve played in League One earlier in my career and you’re playing at massive clubs. Away games are massive days out for supporters and players. You’re playing in great stadiums against really good opposition and it’s enjoyable. Everybody wants to play higher.

“Having had a taste of it earlier in my career, there’s a big part of me that wants to be back there, playing in bigger games, against better opposition and that’s how we’ve all got to look at it.”

On the importance of victory last weekend:

“It was an important win to end a bad run. You don’t want those going on for too long. We knew the main thing was to win the game. I thought the performance in the first half was excellent at times and in the second half we showed grit and kept the ball out of the net.

“It would have been easy for us to go really flat after conceding the first goal again, especially on the run of form. But it kicked us into gear and we were firmly in control after going behind, played a lot in their half and deservedly took the lead into half time.

“We showed good determination and grit to defend the box for the second half.”

On George Miller returning to scoring ways:

“It was great to see. I think any team that does well in the league needs a striker scoring goals. He was doing that earlier in the season and hopefully that goal kicks him into a run of form.”

On the search for consistency:

“We want to keep the hope as long as we can that we can make the top seven. The consistency is the issue. We’ve shown that we can compete with anyone in the league on our day. But we haven’t done it often enough.

“The aim for the next four or five games is to make sure that we’re finishing the season with a chance of finishing in the play-offs. I believe we have the squad to do it and it’s just about making sure we do it, starting on Saturday afternoon.

“There’s been certain games where we’ve been the better team and missed crucial chances. Had we scored the first goal in a lot of those games I’m sure we’d have gone on to win them. There’s been games that we’ve lost when we should have at least drawn and kept a clean sheet where we’ve switched off late in the game.

“Scoring first is really important and when we’re not playing well, we need to make sure we’re not losing games.”

*****

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