Graham Baker: update

Brian Caffarey
9:17am, Fri 11th Sep 2009
I spoke to Graham Baker earlier this morning for an update for tomorrow’s home game with Maidenhead United.

Saturday’s game

The main injury worry again concerns Aswad Thomas, whose ankle was sore once more after Tuesday’s game against Basingstoke. Graham hasn’t yet decided whether to play him or not.

Billy Hussey is continuing to recover from his injury. Both Jon Boardman and Jerome Maledon are back in training but Graham reckons that they are both about two weeks away from being available for first team selection – Jerome perhaps a bit quicker than that because he did get back into full training before he suffered his toe injury.

Because of injuries and suspensions Graham has closed off for the moment the possibility of allowing one or two players to go out on loan. There have been enquiries from several clubs in the past couple of weeks.

Graham knows that, while travelling fans have been treated to some great performances in recent weeks, what is really needed is a sparkling performance at home to draw in the crowds. He hopes very much that this can be achieved on Saturday but points out that some teams inevitably come to Kingfield with a defensive set-up and with the main aim of frustrating us. His side, he says, has simply got to learn how to overcome that.

Some comments on recent performances

Earlier in the week Graham talked a bit more about recent games and some of the outstanding performances we’ve seen from individual players. (One of the nice things about interviewing Graham is that he always gives you more material than you can use at the time!)

I commented on the quality of Sam Sloma’s play at Hampton and Richmond Borough. Graham was quick to agree: “Sam is a quality player. What we’ve seen in recent games is the Sam Sloma we know. He is ‘Mr Consistency’. Like Mark Ricketts, he’s one of those players whose performance will always rate a minimum of 7 out of 10 in any game. He’s a great player for young players to watch and learn from. He’s calm, measured, rarely wastes a ball, making the simple pass and with a telling final delivery. And, as we saw at Hampton, he’s got a superb left-foot, with the ability to execute a perfect technical free-kick and make the fine cross for Delano’s goal!�

Which took us neatly on to our in-form striker. “Delano missed the back-end of last season with his shin splints problem. He had an excellent pre-season and made an impact when he came on as a substitute. He’s been unlucky in a way that he didn’t make a start before the Hampton game but he’s seized his chance. I think he’s been playing ‘catch up’: the fact that he’s had to wait gave him added incentive to show what he could do but, of course, he’s now got to try to keep up that level of performance. We all know Delano is big and strong. We’ve been working on things like better use of his body, such as backing into defenders and shielding the ball, and then better laying-off of the ball. He’s maturing nicely. He can be a real handful for defenders and worked himself into the ground at Hampton and Basingstoke.�

I also asked Graham about Matt Pegler. Matt, who started with Fulham but wasn’t taken onto their YTS scheme, spent last year at Aldershot Town, having originally signed up with Woking’s Academy until the Shots came along at the last minute with an offer. He was unhappy, though, with his development at the Rec and came back to Woking in the summer. “Matt’s got great self-belief and self-confidence�, said Graham. “When he joins us in training, he doesn’t give any impression of inferiority. He’s a very determined lad, with no fear, who’s mapped out his career in his head and is going to work hard to get there. I think that, like Ross, he’s got the potential to do very well indeed.� Graham is going to ponder what to do about Ross’s suspension for the FA Cup tie on 26 September. He’s clearly not ruled out handing the goalkeeping gloves to Matt.

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