Latics wait on Lockwood
Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 28 July 2014
ADAM Lockwood has provided Athletic manager Lee Johnson with an injury scare two weeks before the new season kicks off.
Though he is suspended for the opening game of the Sky Bet League One campaign at Colchester following his dismissal on the last day of 2013-14 against Notts County, it would be quite a blow if the new club captain was to be sidelined for any further length of time.
On a poor, rock-solid playing surface at Barrow — one slammed by Johnson as “dangerous” — Lockwood felt a twinge in the second half and hobbled off.
With Miguel Llera having been sent packing at the start of the club’s team-bonding excursion in Kendal last week, it leaves the club’s defensive options looking a little threadbare.
The Chronicle understands that it was felt that Llera (34), who turned out for Scunthorpe on Saturday, wasn’t quite prepared to fully buy into the ethos of the club and that an amicable decision was made to part ways.
Johnson admitted he could now be forced into making a couple of loan moves to shore up the squad.
“He (Lockwood) felt a ‘pop’ on the sole of his foot which could mean his has popped a tendon, which could be a bad one,” Johnson said.
“We have to wait and see. It could just be a pocket of air, which you get sometimes when doing a lot of work on hard ground.
“Obviously, we hope for the best-case scenario.”
Mike Jones was another injury casualty at Holker Street, coming off injured with a cut on his head in the first half which required stitches. The midfield man may also have suffered mild concussion.
Also sidelined and nursing knocks at the moment are Connor Brown and Amari Morgan-Smith, the latter having yet to taste any action after suffering a knee injury in training.
He could be back for the Huddersfield game at SportsDirect.com Park on Saturday, but there is bad news on striker Rhys Turner, who is out for four weeks with a hip flexor problem.
The picture could have been worse, too, had Liam Kelly sustained injury in a two-footed challenge on him by Barrow's Paddy Lacey.
“It was a bad tackle, a coward’s tackle,” said Johnson of that incident. “It was disappointing to see, especially with Liam Kelly coming back from a bad injury.
“There were a few little bits that got narky, but I blame the groundsman for that. When the ball bobbles up as it was, you are asking for trouble.”
Athletic again lined up in a 3-5-2 formation for the second game running, with Johnson stressing that such an arrangement can suit his players in the right circumstances.
“We have got to have options in the bag and you can use the three-at-the-back in a number of different ways,” said the manager, who praised the efforts of midfield men Kelly and Timothee Dieng in controlling the game in the 2-1 win at the weekend.
“If you believe you are the better side with the ball, it is a good system. To get a game back sometimes it is a good system.
“It was a good game to try and work on that. The beauty of 3-5-2 is there are so many natural angles with it.
“We probably wouldn't have played 3-5-2 on this pitch in a competitive game, but I am still trying to get a few principles installed tactically as we are going to have to use a few different formations this season.”
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