MATCH PREVIEW: Freedom of speech banned, a mystery injury, a non-scoring striker and a referee's aploogy
Peterborough United players have been banned from speaking about a possible FA Cup third round trip to Chelsea.
Manager Grant McCann is the man issuing the orders. He insists everyone’s focus must be on beating Chesterfield in a League One fixture at the ABAX Stadium tomorrow (December 10, 3pm kick off).
McCann wants his team firmly established in the League One play-off places before the potential visit to Stamford Bridge for a tie that will take place on Sunday, January 8. Posh host Notts County in a second round replay on Tuesday, December 20 for the right to take on the Premier League leaders.
“To be honest Chelsea doesn’t interest me at the moment,” McCann claimed. “If and when we know we are playing at Chelsea we will talk about it then, We have more important games to play before we even tackle Notts County in replay.
“The players have been warned not to talk about Chelsea. They will be in trouble if they do, as the priority right now is to establish our place as a promotion contender in League One.
“First of all we have a game against Chesterfield which will require all our focus.
“I watched them last week (whey lost 5-0 at home to League Two Wycombe in the FA Cup) and they weren’t great, but they responded well with a 2-0 win at a strong Rochdale side in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday and their manager will want another response tomorrow.
“Chesterfield have also had problems off the field and that always brings a team together.”
“But we are at home and we are keen to make up for the last home match when we lost to Scunthorpe. Our home form is better than in recent seasons, but it still could be better. We need to make the ABAX a fortress for the rest of the season.
“If we play for 90 minutes like we did for 35 at Notts County last weekend we will have a good chance of winning, but Chesterfield have some good individuals so we will need a good all-round performance to get the result we want.
“We’ve worked on keeping possession better in training this week.”
Posh will be without striker Lee Angol who starts a three-match ban following his red card at Notts County last weekend. They will also be without central defender Jack Baldwin who faces a two-month lay-off because of a knee problem.
McCann also revealed that a ‘key’ player is struggling with an injury. He didn’t name the player, but midfielder Chris Forrester has been carrying a niggle for a few weeks.
McCann is expected to seek a new centre-back in January, but if Forrester does miss out, Ricardo Santos could be called up for his first start of the League One season enabling Michael Bostwick to cover for the Posh captain.
First-choice left-back Andrew Hughes has also played as a centre-back in the past.
Midfielder Brad Inman is unlikely to start as he remains short of match practice. Paul Taylor, who hasn’t scored a League One goal since August 16, is likely to retain his place up front alongside either Shaquile Coulthirst or Tom Nichols.
“Ricardo is an option,” McCann admitted. “But I have other options. We are looking at the possibility of signing a centre-back in January as we will miss Jack Baldwin.
“We are waiting on the fitness of one player. He has been struggling for a while now and probably needs a week off. I would have probably used Brad at Notts County if we had kept 11 men on the pitch.
“Paul Taylor did well in the first-half at Notts County. He’s an excellent footballer, but he knows he will be judged on the number of goals he scores.”
McCann also revealed he had received an apology last weekend’s match referee Ben Toner, but not for his dismissal of Angol.
“We wrote to the referee to ask why he hadn’t given us a free kick for the foul on Lee Angol which led to his red card,” McCann added. “He wrote back to say he realised Lee had been fouled and that we should have had a free kick.
“He also said Lee Angol shouldn’t have been flagged offside when Marcus Maddison played him through.”