Freddie – How Ainsley did on return from injury


Ainsley Maitland-Niles made his return from injury on Friday night as our under-23s picked up a 1-1 draw with Swansea on the road.

The 19-year-old suffered a leg fracture on the opening day of the season against Manchester City - but he’s finally back after two months on the sidelines.

We spoke to Freddie Ljungberg after the final whistle - and this is what he said:

on the team’s overall performance…

We dominated the game and started really well in the first 20 minutes, played out and played through them quite well, but then we got a bit sloppy and maybe thought it would be a bit easy. We didn’t have the patience that was needed and then they scored from a set play. We came out in the second half and played really well. I don’t know if they were in our half many times in the second half, but we could only get one goal in. It was a draw so that’s obviously frustrating. We wanted to win the game but we have a lot of games in just a few days, so we were rotating a little bit in the squad and stuff like that, but it’s frustrating not to win.

on why we tailed off in moments…

They started pressing in a certain way and I tried to get the information to the players in what they were doing and they struggled a little to get out of it. They made some easy mistakes that we talked about at half time and then we had no problem with it in the second half. We got caught in that little trap for five to 10 minutes which we shouldn’t have.

on why Sheaf replaced Ballard at the break…

It was nothing like Danny not playing well or anything like that. It was a planned decision since we have a lot of games and Danny has been away playing internationals and Ben has been injured for so long and is now ready, so we wanted to give him 45 minutes. 

on whether the team reacted to his comments…

Yes, 100 per cent. The boys did well and they got into some good positions, but unfortunately they were hacked down a few times when we thought we would maybe score a goal, so that’s intelligent defending from them as well. It’s a bit frustrating, but we did well. 

on finally getting some good fortune with the deflected goal…

When you get those you say thank you very much! As I said, we rotated a lot in the squad but still we felt that we dominated well enough to win the game. It was difficult to get that tempo in the game and keep on going, but that’s the way it is. 

on Maitland-Niles making his return from injury…

He’s been training for 10 days or two weeks or so now and we were asked by the first team to play him for a few minutes and get him ready. He did well and of course he was a little rusty because he hasn’t played football for a long time, but that’s why he was in the game today, so he could get ready, feel it and keep up with the tempo in the game, so it was nice to have him here.

on whether he’s happy with the draw…

The way the game we looked we always want to win the games we play – and especially if we look at how we dominated it. We wanted to win the game, but when we had those breaks to get going they sometimes became free-kicks and that slowed the game down, so we didn’t really get the momentum that we wanted in the second half.

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