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Will Carpenter


Posted Wednesday, January 10th 2018

‘Returning players can make case for league selection’ - McPhillips

  • 'Anyone who puts on the Bristol jersey wants to keep it once they’ve got it'
  • 'Performance is currency for returning players'
  • 'Doncaster possess all-round threats - we need to be wary'
  • Players have come back in good spirits - we’re really looking forward to this block'

Assistant coach, Conor McPhillips believes Saturday’s trip to Doncaster in the British and Irish Cup is a prime opportunity for players to put a marker down ahead of a vital block of Championship fixtures.

Tom Varndell, Joe Latta and Nick Haining have all returned to full training ahead of the weekend’s clash at Castle Park, following long-term injury lay-offs, and McPhillips has challenged the players involved to make a case for selection when the Championship resumes at the end of the month.

“Anyone who puts on the Bristol jersey wants to do it justice and wants to keep it once they’ve got it, so the guys involved are really hungry,” he said.

“The guys who’ve had long-term injuries have been pretty unlucky – Tom (Varndell) was going pretty well before his injury, Joe Latta and Nick (Haining) had really good pre-seasons but got injuries early, so they’re really hungry, performing well in training and looking forward to their next chance.

“We’ve got the guys coming back from injuries, but we’ve also got players who haven’t had as much game time as they would have liked, so when they get the jersey on they need to perform, and their performance is their currency.”

Nick Haining and Joe Latta are back in full training after long-term injury lay-offs (JMP UK).

Bristol United will be hoping to avenge October’s 22-33 defeat when the sides meet for the return fixture on Saturday, with McPhillips well aware of the threats posed by Clive Griffiths’ side.

“We played Doncaster not so long ago and it was a tight game up there, and having watched them again recently, not a massive amount has changed,” he said.

“They’ve had some really good performances in this competition. They have the ability to take you on up front with power, but they also have some really elusive backs who can cause some damage out there. So, we’ve had a good look at them ahead of this weekend and we’re under no illusions.”

“Anyone who puts on the Bristol jersey wants to do it justice and wants to keep it once they’ve got it, so the guys involved are really hungry.”

Conor McPhillips, assistant coach

This weekend’s game comes on the back of a two-week break, with no fixtures since December’s victory at Richmond, and McPhillips says the squad is in ‘good spirits’ as they enter 2018.

“A few of the boys had a few days off last week, and it was a time to reflect on 2017, where we went 13 from 13 in the Championship, which we’re really happy with,” he said.

“The boys have come back in good spirits, which we knew they would, and we’re really looking forward to this block of games.

“2018 is hopefully going to be a big year for us and we can’t wait to get started.”