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Interviews

What we learnt: Robbie’s presser

Robbie Neilson discusses transfers, Dean Lewington, fixtures and the pre-season trip to Hungary...

22 June 2017

Here’s we learnt from Robbie Neilson’s first press conference with the media ahead of the start of pre-season training...

Wigan on opening day...
“It’s a great start for us. It’s important we have a big one to focus on. If we can start the season well against a team that’s going to be one of your main competitors at the top end of the league and get a result, then it will set the tone for the rest of the season and gives us confidence. Right from today our focus is on Wigan and we’ll make we’re ready.”

Strong Sky Bet League One...
“There are a lot of good teams in the league this year. You’ve got three good teams coming up – big teams, good venues to go to and teams who will bring big supports here as well. You’ve got good teams coming out of the Championship as well. There are some good teams in there and some good games. It is a tough league but you want to play against good teams and test yourself. We want to show that we can beat these teams. It will be an exciting year.”

Full focus on Wigan...
“The focus at the moment is on Wigan. We need to make sure we have a good pre-season and we are prepared for that game. Then we’ll look to take care of the next game, then the next one and then the next one after that.”

Transfer deals close...
“We’re hoping to tie up a couple in the next week or so, hopefully. We’ve agreed things with the players and the clubs so we’re not far away with that. We probably need to add another five after that.”

Young players to get a chance in pre-season...
“We’ve got a good group of young players coming through and if they can prove themselves in the pre-season by coming into the games then we will give these boys a chance. The Club is about developing young players and it’s important we give them the opportunity to do that. They will get those opportunities over the pre-season and it’s up to them to take them. They’ve got talent but they’ve got to prove they are ready for this level. I’ve been pleased with the way they’ve looked after themselves during the offseason. They’ve been in here working hard to make sure they give themselves the best opportunity to get into the team.”

Happy with Dean Lewington’s stay...
“I’m really pleased he’s decided to stay for another two years. Dean is a legend at the Club and he’s loved by everyone – the staff, the fans and the players as well – so it was important we kept a guy like that.”

Dean still has ‘a lot to offer’...
“Dean is still a big part of the squad and he’ll still play a lot of games next season. I was honest with him in the summer about where I saw the team going. We had a few chats and he spoke to his family before making, what I believe, is the correct decision. He’s still got a lot to offer this team here, not just on the pitch but off it as well.”

Lewie to remain skipper...
“He will still be captain. It’s important we keep that continuity because he’s a really good character to have about. Since the day I came in, he got himself in really good shape and I’m sure during the course of pre-season he’ll prove, once again, what as asset he is to this Club.”

Scott Wootton expected back for day one...
“I’m expecting him to be ready for the start of the season. He’ll be one of our key players because we all know the quality he’s got. It’ll be like a new signing coming in but one that doesn’t need any bedding-in time because he’s comfortable here. He had a really difficult year but he’s shown the spirit he’s got by getting himself back in top condition. We’ll have to be careful with him during pre-season to make sure we don’t push him too hard so that we can make sure he’s ready for that first game.

September target for Chuks...
“Chuks is desperate to get back as soon as he can but we’re just being a little bit cautious with him because of the problems he’s had. I don’t expect him to be back until, probably, September time.”

George Baldock’s deal a ‘decent’ one for both parties...
“I felt it was a decent deal. They came in earlier in the summer but we didn’t feel it was right. I spoke to George a couple of times and told him that it needed to be right for both sides. It had to be right for him – I gave him my opinion in what I felt the right move for him was – and it had to be right for the Club. Eventually we got to a position where it was right for both sides. George is happy, we’re happy so we move on and wish him all the best.”

Ben Reeves’ future...
“Ben has been looking at his options and taking his time. He’s at an age where this is a big, big decision for him. We’ve put an offer in but he’s got options to go to different places. It’s up to him now to make a decision.”

Reason for Hungary visit...
“It’s one that I’ve looked at before but not used. When I was Hearts last season we planned to go but we made the Europa League so we had to come back early and instead we stayed in Scotland. It’s a top facility and everything will be on site. We’ve got two games while we are out there and the players will be able to solely focus on getting themselves fit for the season.”


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