Still challenges squad to step up as McNulty appeal fails

Steve McNulty saw red for this challenge
Steve McNulty saw red for this challenge

Town boss John Still believes the four game suspension handed out to influential skipper Steve McNulty will show him just who is capable of stepping up in his place.

The FA rejected Hatters’ appeal for their captain’s red card received against York City on Tuesday night and he must sit out games with Carlisle, Mansfield Town, AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley.

However, with Alex Lacey and Fraser Franks in reserve, Still said: “It’s always disappointing when for whatever reason you lose influential players, but that’s what you have the squad for.

“Other people have got to come in and do the job, and this will actually tell you who can and who can’t do the job, so it’s not fazing me.”

Although fellow centre half Luke Wilkinson is a doubt for the this weekend’s clash with Carlisle, after coming off during the second half against York, Still won’t be venturing into the loan market for a defender.

He continued: “No, we’ve got four centre halves and we’ll go with that, I’m quite comfortable.

“We’ll know a bit more about that tomorrow, it’s nothing terrible. People think it’s to do with his hamstring that was a problem, it wasn’t that.

“Something pulled in his groin that left it feeling really, really tight. He’s had some treatment today and will have some treatment tomorrow and he may well be okay but we’ll see.

“I think it was the cup game when we had Fraser and Wilko against Bury and didn’t concede so we’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, Still confirmed he would speak to Lacey about his decision to make himself available for the midweek match with the Minstermen when not being fully fit.

After replacing Wilkinson in the second half, York immediately went 2-0 ahead, only for Town to fight back for a point.

Still said: “Lacey came on the other day and didn’t do very well, it wasn’t a criticism of him though, and was never meant as one.

“He was immediately involved in the action and whether he was quite ready, I don’t know.

“He went home straight after as he wasn’t well, but he’s done a bit of training this morning and I’ll have a talk with him as he needs to be more responsible than that.

“I understand, he’s a young man, is keen to play and in one way you like people to be like that, but you’ve got to be sensible.

“If he wasn’t feeling as well as he should have done, we had Fraser. I made a choice on the day that we’d have Lacy on the bench instead of Fraser.

“We looked at the goals that we concede and think he feels that he should have done better and that’s how we saw it.

“Young people make mistakes and it’s important we support them.”

Speaking about McNulty’s red this afternoon before the appeal was heard, Still again felt neither his or York Jake’s Hyde dismissals should have stood.

He added: “From where I was standing, I was shocked at both of them.

“I look at players reactions as well to tackles and there was no reaction from anyone.

“The guy that got sent off them, it looked like a good tackle for me, but the referee’s view is different.

“Steve comes through, the ball was high, he’s knocked the ball away and half caught him in the same motion.

“I know people talk about dangerous play, but I didn’t see dangerous, over aggressive play, in either of the challenges if I’m being honest.”