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Rookie boss defends decision to give youth its head and sees light at the end of the Tigers tunnel

Duncan Milligan, Worksop Town manager.
Duncan Milligan, Worksop Town manager.

Duncan Milligan’s arrival in non-league management has been ‘hard work’ and ‘stressful’ but pre-season is his light at the end of the tunnel.

Worksop Town’s rookie boss was appointed on 1st February, having managed in both college and women’s football.

The Tigers have since won twice and lost five, with injury and suspension to senior players, leaving youngsters to battle it out in a phyiscal league.

The 34-year-old admits the situation he has found himself has been less than ideal but he’s looking forward to bringing big changes this summer.

“It’s been good but hard work, obviously – we’re still picking up the pieces,” he said.

“A lot of the protocols and procedures we want to put in place, we’re doing gradually.

“It will mainly start for pre-season, that’s when we’ll get the basis of our fitness and structure.

“Fitness levels aren’t where we want them to be for players who have been involved with the club all season.

“Reoccurring injuries haven’t been dealt with properly, we don’t think.

“It’s been quite stressful, but come the end of the season the real work can start.”

Milligan has mounted an impassioned defence of his decision to give youth its head, instead of recruiting more experienced players.

“My premise was to build for the next two years, it never felt right to just bring players in to see out the season, so we’ve build around the youth.

“We’re testing these younger players to see if they’re up to the mark to be starting or in the squad next season.

“Some will fall by the wayside but we’re giving them a platform to showcase their talent.

“Come pre-season Worksop will be a popular club and my phone will not stop, everyone will want to be part of it.

“I think people who have got a problem with us not bringing those players in at the moment don’t understand that these players don’t want to come, not at this point of the season – Worksop aren’t playing for anything.

“I’ve said it multiple times, they’re either at County Cup fixtures and going to be playing at league grounds, or they’re chasing promotion or fighting relegation and they’ve got a loyalty.

“We want to bring in players who are going to be loyal.

“They’ve made commitments to their clubs this season and want to see it out, which is fine, I’ve no problem with that.

“People are seeing a short term vision.”

And he insists he has the contacts to recruit a competitive team in the NCEL Premier next season.

“I’ve probably seen more NCEL games this season than most of the managers.

“Before I was in post I was going to fixtures and I know certain managers weren’t at those fixtures.

“I know playersat Evo-Stik level, Conference North level, Central Midlands level.

“The contacts myself and my management team have are second to none, otherwise I wouldn’t be in the post.

“Ultimately, we’ll bring in the right quality and right mentality of player and they will be training on a regular basis.

“Players and staff joining will understand what’s expected of being part of Worksop Town.

“It’s more than a NCEL club, it’s got the infrastructure to potentially be a professional club – we have to start acting like that.

“I’m excited for the project ahead.”