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"From the beginning of this season, we wanted to see if we can go all the way"

Thomas Frank on our Carabao Cup Quarter-Final against Chelsea

22 December 2021

The Covid latest …

We are in a fine place. Thursday last week we thought it was a good thing to postpone the round; it was not far off with six games postponed, one of those last-minute which is unfair for the fans. Our opponent tomorrow were quite unhappy with their game going on, so it could easily have been seven. That helped us massively because we closed our training ground on Thursday. That meant we had Tuesday to Sunday not on the training ground which helped us break the circuit of transmission. From having six or seven positive cases on that Thursday, we only had one with Lateral Flow and PCR testing on Saturday, zero on Monday, and zero today. We are in a fine place going into the game tomorrow.

Tomorrow night’s team selection …

It is a great opportunity to get gametime into a lot of players. Even though they were out running during the week the training ground was closed, you could see when we trained Monday, with that big focus on getting the intensity and physicality back, that it was tough. That shows that consistency in training is important for everyone. A lot of the players are looking forward to playing tomorrow.  

We will put a strong team out there.; I don’t know what Chelsea will do. We put a very strong team out there against Stoke City last time. We had that run that was supposed to be ten games over five weeks and my thought was to put a strong team out and change two players through that spell of games. That means you have a little bit of rotation, but a lot of players will have eight or nine starts. The Chelsea game would just have been another of those very important games.

The importance of the Carabao Cup …

From the beginning of this season, we wanted to progress as far as possible and see if we can go all the way. It is one game at a time; the next game is tomorrow against the European winners. We had a fantastic game against them two months ago. We are looking forward to it; we believe we can progress. We believe that we can win the game, but we know it is going to be very difficult. It is already a statement that we are in the Quarter-Final for the second year in a row. We had never been in the semi-final but we did that last year. If we can do it two years in a row, that will be a massive statement.  

We see it as a massive opportunity to go to the semi-finals. Last year we did the same while we were fighting in a tough promotion battle, playing even more games than this year, under even more extreme circumstances. It is not a free hit but a big opportunity.

Taking on Chelsea …

We have proved in all the games so far in the Premier League that we can compete. I expect us to be very difficult to play against tomorrow. I know we are playing against Chelsea; we saw with the first 60 minutes of the last game that, yes, they controlled the ball and scored a very good goal, but they weren’t that dangerous. They didn’t create much and then the game changed in the last 30 minutes. Hopefully we can play more of the last 30 minutes than the first 60 tomorrow but most likely it will be a combination of the two spells.

Our recent form …

The last four games were very promising. All four of them were back to that defensive, aggressive solidness and very difficult to break down. I know Tottenham Hotspur scored some goals and had some chances but in general it was a good performance. If we can build on that then we are in a good place.

The mental effect of Covid …

From a player’s perspective not one has come to me and said they are a little insecure about this and it would be nice not to play or train. In my opinion, they don’t fear getting the virus because all science and data shows they are very unlikely to get ill. A lot of players in our squad are doubled vaccinated and we put a booster clinic out on Saturday. It is more from the staff because they are from 30 to 70 plus. There are bigger issues there with them having families and small children. I know the players are the high-profile ones and are paid the most money but there are no teams without a fantastic staff behind them. We have to think much more about the staff members than the players sometimes. I care about both the players and the staff but sometimes we tend to focus most of the players.

Potential matches behind closed doors …

I don’t worry too much about what is going to happen in the future, I just try to concentrate on what is happening in the moment and I hope the fans will be the same. If you do what you can to make sure the next game is the most important game in your life as a fan, and a player, then you get the most out of it. A Quarter-Final against Chelsea, under the floodlights, trying to make a little Christmas miracle; what is not to like. We will go out there and attack and I hope the fans will be right behind us.

I’ve loved every minute of every game playing in front of our fans home and away. It has been a fantastic experience and something special to play in front of fans creating a special atmosphere. That’s the bit we will miss massively if fans were not allowed to come to the games. Tomorrow we will have a full stadium and I am looking forward to it.

Vaccination rates among players …

Football clubs and players reflect society. We come to the players who aren’t vaccinated with good arguments about why they should take it. We have a very high number of players who are double vaccinated and have their booster. We are in a good place. I am pleased that we live in a free world where people can make their own choices; I think that is fantastic. Do I try and convince my players to take the vaccine? Yes, because I believe in it. However, I don’t think you will see 100 per cent vaccinated players across the league.

All supporters must fill in a Covid-19 Self Declaration form before coming tonight game and be able to show proof of an NHS COVID Pass or negative test result within the last 48 hours

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