Itís your call
Reporter: by MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 23 July 2014
MIGUEL Llera will continue to take a full part in Athletic’s pre-season preparations, with Lee Johnson hopeful he will ultimately accept the contract offer on the table as a happy man.
Athletic’s manager fielded the former Sheffield Wednesday defender as part of a three-man backline in last night’s 2-2 draw at Morecambe.
Llera (34) played for 90 minutes and is with the rest of the squad at their team-building retreat in Kendal over the coming days.
Johnson accepts that the Spaniard is reluctant to take a big drop in wages.
But he is likely to be given until after the Barrow game on Saturday to sign, or else attentions will turn elsewhere.commitment
“We will see how it pans out,” said Johnson. “He (Llera) has shown the commitment that he is coming on the trip and he played 90 minutes (at Morecambe).
“We are not a charity. I certainly wouldn’t be just giving people fitness for no reason.
“Of course, there is an intent there. It is difficult for players and I was one myself, when you come down from a Championship club.
“On decent money, sometimes the market says you are not worth what you are in your own head and it can take time for players to adjust to that in their own heads.
“What I wouldn’t want to do is sign someone if they are not happy. I have to make sure, and he does too, that we are both happy. If he does sign, fantastic — we will have four centre-backs competing for two or three spots.”
On his new-look formation, Johnson believes it can prove effective.
“We tried a different formation and we will have to use that at times going into the season, particularly if we are a goal down at half-time.
“It is a very attacking one and in the first half we played some neat stuff with Carl Winchester popping up in the ‘hole’.
“We looked like we can definitely play that system and we have the profiles of what is required within the squad.”
Last night, Rhys Turner (hip) was ruled out, and also missing from the squad were Connor Brown, Jonathan Forte, Genseric Kusunga and Timothee Dieng, with a variety of ailments at play.
“We have got a few little knocks, so couldn’t make as many substitutions as we would have liked to,” added the manager, after his fifth pre-season friendly.
“But a few of them have got 90 minutes under their belt now and we will get stronger with each game.”
While satisfied generally with the performance at the Globe Arena, Johnson was unhappy with the manner of the second-half goals conceded in the 79th and 87th minutes, as Morecambe’s six additional substitutes made their presence felt.
“I was disappointed with both goals,” he said. “We talked about engaging in the box and after goalkeeper Joel (Coleman) made a poor decision to come out and only got a little touch on it, from then on it is men that score goals and not space.
“You can squeeze up but you must engage. Miguel (Llera) squeezed up but didn’t engage.
“For the second one, there was no need to try to play offside. You have got to be brave and bold and defend.
“But I would rather it happen now, so we can talk about it, than August 9.”
As for the break in Kendal, the manager believes it will prove a revealing experience.
“It will be tough, back to nature a little bit,” Johnson said. “We will do some activities, some team-building and set our goals for the season.
“I am looking forward to living in each other’s pockets for a few days and seeing what the new lads are really like.”
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