We head into our final game before the Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs with Bristol City our hosts this afternoon. Ahead of the game, Thomas Frank spoke to the press to give the latest team news, look ahead to the Play-Offs, and share his excitement at the possible return of fans. Watch Thomas' pre-match interview below.
Thomas on tomorrow’s team selection
We want to keep momentum, intensity, and that good feeling of winning; that will be the biggest aim. The last two games, Rotherham United and Watford, after we knew it was Play-Offs, we rested two to four players overall only because it made sense not to play Christian Norgaard and Vitaly Janelt fully and Ethan Pinnock had a minor injury. We will come strong tomorrow; I believe in rhythm and momentum and that will be the aim going into the next game. Of course, we will have that rest in mind, but it will be a strong team.
Let’s see with Rico Henry. He has been training very hard to come back to fitness and his level. We will assess him every day to see if it is possible for him to join the squad. Tomorrow could be too early but let’s see.
Thomas on Ivan Toney’s goals record
Ivan is a pretty confident person and has a big belief in himself. We are only human so it is natural that when you want something badly you can be less relaxed in the moment. It can happen to the best players in the world, it is just a natural human reaction. So there is a little bit of relief in that perspective and hopefully he can keep doing well for us in the coming games.
Thomas on the Play-Off schedule
I like how they have done it a bit more. I still think the Play-Off final is too far away because three of the teams will get punished for a longer season. I like the way that it is planned this year because we have a more normal week the first week and the second week and then there’s a week to prepare for the final. Next week we will give them three days off to rest and then it’s fantastic to have a normal week to train going into the First Leg. It will be a little bit more than a normal week as our normal Matchday +2 we can’t train the starters but this time we have four very good sessions planned.
Thomas on potential Play-Off opponents
For me it doesn’t matter. It is three other strong teams that have a different style and, in different ways, have had a strong season. If you looked at the Champions League Semi-Finals and the squads of the four teams going into the Semi-Final it would be impossible to predict who will go through to the final. Then you had the margins of the games and injuries which changed the dynamics and in the end it was a relatively clear win for Chelsea and Manchester City. In the Play-Offs last year the games were so even. Last year with us we were 3-0 in front then we give a goal away. Fulham won 2-0 away to Cardiff City, gave a goal away and suddenly there was pressure. It will be the finest margins which will define those Semi-Finals.
Thomas on the challenges of Covid this season
It has been impossible to have a normal life. We have been privileged in some ways to be able to meet and see people; that has been very important. However, nobody has had a normal life to see friends and family or have a social life. That is the same for everyone else in the world so I’m not saying we are in a worse or better place but, when you have to top perform every third or fourth day, it is just one of those factors that can affect. There was a stage in the season, and I still think we are up there, where we had played the most games in the world. That’s been tough but I think the players and staff have done amazingly to compete so consistently throughout the season.
Thomas on the return of fans
I look forward to having the fans in and I’m 100 per cent sure the players feel the same. I want to get that connection, backing, and emotion where we are in it together with our fans. With or without fans the players are still in that performance bubble so sometimes you don’t hear them. I think the players will be so focussed on the task ahead of them but, because it is the first time in a long time, the first minute or ten minutes might be a bit different. However, I think it will be a lot like riding your bike when you haven’t done it for a long time; you’ll get back up and do it again but maybe you just needs stabilisers in the first couple of minutes. We are looking forward to it.
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