Matt Taylor on injuries, Forest Green Rovers, and Nicky Ajose’s absence

Exeter City manager Matt Taylor will use Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy game against Forest Green Rovers to give the rest of his squad a chance to force their way into the starting line-up for League Two season.

The Grecians play their first group stage fixture in the competition that they reached the semi-finals in last season at St James Park on Tuesday, and Taylor said that he will be taking the match seriously.

But he added that he will be using the fixture to give some of the players who didn’t feature in Saturday’s 2-0 EFL Cup defeat to Bristol City a run out ahead of the start of the League Two campaign next week.

The game though is likely to come too soon for a trio of injured City players, and the manager said that anyone who doesn’t feature in either of the first two games won’t be starting at Salford City next week.

Matt Taylor Manager of Exeter City during Exeter City training session at Exeter City's Cliff Hill Training Ground, Exeter, Devon on Sept 1st 2020. - PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
Matt Taylor Manager of Exeter City during Exeter City training session at Exeter City’s Cliff Hill Training Ground, Exeter, Devon on Sept 1st 2020. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“The rules don’t allow us to make 11 changes but I don’t have enough players to do that anyway,” Taylor said.

“Some of the players who played today will have to back it up, but we have to be sensible. We will go into the game on Tuesday night and try and win it, but are still working towards Saturday, and no disrespect to Tuesday, but it is all about Saturday.”

Bristol City vs Exeter City

Right backs Jake Caprice and Pierce Sweeney will almost certainly will on the sidelines on Tuesday night with injury, as will Nicky Law, but Taylor said that there was a chance that Tom Parkes and Alex Hartridge may be fit enough to be involved against the Green Devils.

Dejection at the final whistle for Tom Parkes of Exeter City as Northampton town celebrate being promoted during the Sky Bet League Two Play Off Final between Exeter City and Northampton Town on 29th June 2020 at Wembley Stadium, London
Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK.
Dejection at the final whistle for Tom Parkes of Exeter City as Northampton town celebrate being promoted during the Sky Bet League Two Play Off Final between Exeter City and Northampton Town on 29th June 2020 at Wembley Stadium, London Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK.

He said: “Realistically I think Tom Parkes and Alex Hartridge have a chance. They need to get some games time in the legs so Tuesday is a big night for them and for a few others coming back from injury. If they get game time Tuesday then they are in the reckoning for Saturday, but I won’t be able to pick anyone who hasn’t had the game time.

“Nicky Law has a calf issue. We hope it’s not too bad and we won’t be out for too long, but he is similar in that he needs to get some game time but Salford may be too soon for him.”

On the bench for City on Saturday were Jake Taylor, Jack Sparkes and Ben Seymour, all of whom who made late cameos, as well as Alex Fisher and youngsters Jordan Dyer and Harry Kite, plus goalkeeper Jonny Maxted, all of whom will be keen to be in the starting eleven on Tuesday.

Nicky Ajose of Exeter City battles for the ball with Noah Smerdon of Exeter City during Exeter City training session at Exeter City's Cliff Hill Training Ground, Exeter, Devon on Sept 1st 2020. - PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
Nicky Ajose of Exeter City battles for the ball with Noah Smerdon of Exeter City during Exeter City training session at Exeter City’s Cliff Hill Training Ground, Exeter, Devon on Sept 1st 2020. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

As would be Nicky Ajose, who when asked about his absence from the squad, Taylor said that it was a tactical decision and not due to injury.

He added: “He wasn’t in the squad today. Ben Seymour and Alex Fisher are ahead of him and he’ll get his opportunity on Tuesday.”

On Tuesday’s game, Taylor said: “We will take it seriously. Our squad not as big as it has been, but that’s no reason not to take it seriously. So we will go into the game on Tuesday night and try and win it, but are still working towards Saturday, and we want to go into the Salford game with a bit of confidence behind us.”

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