Peterborough United manager Steve Evans has explained his controversial team selection ahead of Saturday’s (March 17) disappointing League One defeat at Oxford United.
Evans surprisingly selected midfielder Jermaine Anderson to make his first start since December 23 ahead of popular playmaker Chris Forrester, while Anthony Grant, one of the more consistent players in the Posh squad before Christmas, has not made a single matchday squad since Grant McCann was replaced as first-team boss three games ago.
Posh also fielded just one specialist striker at Oxford with Anderson employed as the main support for top scorer Jack Marriott. Anderson was substituted in favour of striker Omar Bogle before the first half had finished.
Evans held his hands up for a ‘poor selection’ immediately after a 2-1 defeat that helped to knock Posh out of the play-off places.
“It’s important to be honest with players and with fans which is why I opened my press conference by admitting my errors,” Evans stated.
“I tried to make a ‘horses for courses’ selection. I expected a big battle in those conditions and picked my team accordingly.
“Jermaine Anderson has been outstanding in training since I walked through the door. He’s had my staff saying ‘wow’ with some of the stuff he’s been doing.
“It certainly wasn’t the case of picking him based on that glorious pass that created a goal for Jack Marriott against Charlton. He’s been knocking on the door because he’s been training so well.
“I took him off early because I just had to make a change. It could have been any one of half-a-dozen players, but Jermaine was the one who had played the fewest minutes so I replaced him. Making substitutions that early doesn’t sit well with me, but we weren’t playing well. I’ve spoken to Jermaine since and he will be fine. I fully expect him to bounce back.
“I didn’t play Chris Forrester because he looked flat and not particularly healthy on the day before the game. He was excellent against Charlton and then he worked very hard on that difficult pitch at Bury. I like Chris. He’s a quality player, but I went with what I had seen on Thursday and Friday.
“Anthony Grant is a good player, but the first time he’s been 100 per cent right in training was this morning (March 19). If we’d only had two games of the season left we probably would have risked him, but we’ve got him right now and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action. He was sharp this morning, moving the ball on quickly.”
Grant will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Aston Villa tomorrow (March 20) as will centre-back Ryan Tafazolli who will probably be required for Saturday’s (March 24) home game with Bristol Rovers as Jack Baldwin starts a two-game ban following his second red card of the season at Oxford. Baldwin will also miss the Good Friday game at Rotherham.
Forrester is expected to be fit for the Rovers game despite seven stitches in a leg wound he picked up at Oxford. The damage was described as ‘superficial’ by Evans. Forrester can expect a recall on Saturday as teenage midfielder Leo Da Silva Lopes is away on international duty with Portugal Under 20s.
Posh fans can grill Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor at a fans’ forum in the Caroline Hand Suite at the ABAX Stadium on Wednesday (March 21, 7.30pm).
All proceeds from the evening will go former Posh favourite Trevor Quow’s family. Quow, who used to play for Evans at Boston and Stamford, needs to adapt his family home to make life more comfortable for his daughter who has a serious medical condition.
Entry is a minimum donation of £3 and there wil be an auction on the night when lots will include a ‘day as a director’ and a ‘day at the training ground.’
Tickets can be purchased at www.theposh.tickets.com or from the ABAX Stadium.