Interview

‘Koscielny did really well on his return’

Koscielny

Laurent Koscielny made his long-awaited return from injury on Monday night as our under-23s were beaten by Derby County.

The France international was substituted at the break while we were trailing by a single goal - but Freddie Ljungberg believes thatplaying alongside our club captain will be a valuable learning experience for his young defenders.

on the first-half performance…
It was okay. We were a little bit off and we’d made a lot of changes because there are games coming up in the week, but it was okay. We unfortunately conceded a goal that was a little bit rash in the tackle, but we created some chances and at half time we thought there were certain things that we could make difficult for Derby. But we got a sending off after a few minutes so that ended the game a little bit, so that’s a bit sad.

on what his players will learn from playing with Koscielny…
Of course it’s great - and especially so because Koscielny came through it. He looked okay afterwards so that’s a great positive for the club. The players will learn a lot from him and you can see that we dominated possession and we held the ball quite well in the first half, so it’s just unfortunate that we gave away the penalty. I thought he did really well and I’m happy that he feels okay.

on our slow start after the break…
They took Jordi [Osei-Tutu] by the throat and then he got sent off for some reason. It became a bit itchy after that and then Danny [Ballard] got a sending off, which is a bit sad. And then after that obviously with nine men we had to sit back and try to defend as good as we could. Unfortunately the scoreline got out of hand and in my opinion it got too big, but it’s not everyday that you get two men sent off.

on what was missing in the final third…
I think what we were missing is quite clear. They played very high in their press and we talked about it beforehand. They play man for man in the back and with pace up front we could do them a little bit, but we didn’t have much pace today as we normally have - and I thought we could have hurt them a bit more. They were on the front foot and did well and hopefully next time we will hurt them a bit more.

on what he can learn from the game…
I’m very disappointed after a day like that. In the end we just had to sit in two blocks of four and try to stop the scoreline from getting too far out of hand. The players had to work on that and not allowing too many split passes, and we said in the dressing room that there was a game before the sending off and a game after the second half. We’re mostly going to look at the game before the sending off and it was okay. We thought at half-time that with some changes we could change the game, but unfortunately we never had that opportunity.