Mark Molesley was in a sombre mood after Lewis Gard had to be stretchered off during Southend’s 3-0 defeat to Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy this evening.
The young midfielder appeared to injure his knee and required assistance from medical staff before being carried off, having previously suffered a severe knee injury in the same competition two seasons ago.
Goals from John Marquis and a brace from Ronan Curtis ensured Southend’s exit from the competition at the group stage and afterwards, the boss gave his thoughts on the defeat as well as updating us on the injury to Gard.
On Gard’s injury…
“That was a tough moment for everyone. I’ve only been at the club a short while but everyone knows how well Lewis done to come back from the previous injury and we’re praying it’s nowhere near as bad as that, but it’s not nice to see him stretchered off.
“Football goes to the back of your mind when you see a young player like that. I’ve really been enjoying working with Lewis, he’s a great lad and a great player, and our thoughts are with him and we hope he makes a speedy recovery.
“The injury is in his knee, he’s been stretchered off and we just pray for the best with that one.”
On the defeat to Portsmouth…
“You always look for positives in the manner of the defeat and I think the boys worked really hard tonight. Again, we’re a youthful side and Portsmouth showed the depth and experience of their squad.
“They’re a strong side and that’s the challenge we want, and I think we can take a lot of positives out of it. First and foremost, the two scholars coming on – Kenny Coker having a full 45 minutes and Oli Coker with a good half an hour – and I thought they equipped themselves really well, playing up against people 10 years older than them.
“I thought that was fantastic. Great for the club to show underneath how good they’re doing with players like that being able to step in is a great experience for them. The younger players in our squad had an opportunity to get out there and we’ve certainly shown some really good moments, we’ve had to defend against a very good side so there are lots of positives to take out of it.”
On debutant Ashley Nathaniel-George…
“I think in spells there you could see he’s really calm in possession. He’s a little bit behind [on fitness], he hasn’t had any matches, any real pre-season games or trained for the last few weeks so we’ve just have to get him up to speed, but he had a couple of nice little touches in there and I’m sure once we get him up to full fitness he’ll be a real asset for us.
“We’re using this game to get everyone as fit as we can and hopefully it’s been a purposeful exercise for us tonight. As much as we wanted to win the game, that hasn’t quite happened tonight, but we can learn some valuable lessons. Hopefully, we’ve got some valuable minutes into people and managed to rest some up so we can get our strongest team possible on Saturday.”