RANDELL WILLIAMS IN SAM STUBBS OUT: EXETER CITY MANAGER MATT TAYLOR AHEAD OF CAMBRIDGE UNITED AWAY
Exeter City have been handed mixed news on the injury front ahead of their clash with League Two table-toppers Cambridge United this Saturday at Abbey Stadium.
Starting with the good news for the Grecians as heavily influential attacker Randell Williams, who has not started a game since the Boxing Day draw against Forest Green, is ready to make his return to the first 11, according to boss Matt Taylor.
“I was putting him on to get him through half a game of football [against Mansfield], he wasn't like how he used to be in terms of the way he moved but signs were there in terms of his speed and his dynamic ability,” said Taylor.
The return of City’s player of the season from last year is a huge boost ahead of the run-in where Taylor’s side will attempt to make a final push to secure a play-off position and his return comes at the perfect time as the Grecians are in dire need of a quick attacking player following the campaign-ending injury to Joel Randall.
“He’s a player who just asks different questions and is an important addition to the team, certainly in an attacking sense.”
Taylor added: “What we've not had previously for the last few weeks when Joel has not been in the team is real pace and power and a direct player, someone who puts a bit of fear into the opposition backline.”
At the other end of the pitch, City are still without January signing Sam Stubbs who Taylor was “looking to build the team around” as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
Stubbs, who is still yet to play a game in red and white since his move from Fleetwood, now looks as though he won’t be featuring at all in City’s remaining eight games.
“Two weeks ago, he was training with the group but he's had a setback in relation to his knee swelling up after a session.
“He went back to see the surgeon and has had an injection and his knee drained again. No pain whatsoever and no problem structurally. It's just a swelling which we can't quite get on top of and it's probably unlikely that he'll feature for the rest of this season.
“It’s just another body we could have done with and a new player to affect the group - it's a real shame for Sam first and foremost, but we do expect him to be fit and firing ready for next season,” said Taylor.
While the return of Williams is a welcome boost for City and Taylor, their weekend opponents Cambridge United have their own set of attacking players that can harm the City defence.
Not only do The U’s occupy the top position in the League but they also have the leading scorer in the division in Paul Mullin with a staggering 28 goals.
However, while he is their main threat, Taylor is firmly aware of the danger they also pose in other positions throughout the pitch.
“They’ve got some outstanding players even one who's only a year younger than me and still playing at an incredible level in Wes Hoolahan - outstanding to see what he's done this season and he really makes them tick.
“Hiram Boateng is playing well, which is great, because we think fondly of Hiram from his time at Exeter and they’ve got a really good attacking dynamic within their squad with attacking fullbacks.
“Mullin works alongside a big strong target man who's also got goals and they've got great legs in the team.
“I think we’re level in terms of goals scored so far this season so there might well be goals in this game, hopefully at the right end of the pitch in relation to ourselves but I do think there will be chances in this game,” said Taylor.
City won the reverse fixture 2-0 early on in the campaign at St James Park, but it’s sure to be a different test on Saturday as Cambridge will be looking to push themselves further clear in the automatic promotion places.