The ATK Mohun Bagan head coach also shed light on the club’s January transfer window plan.

ATK Mohun Bagan aim to go top of the Indian Super League (ISL) table by defeating fellow title-hopefuls Odisha FC on Thursday. A win can help Juan Ferrando’s side record their fourth successive victory and help them keep the pressure on Mumbai City and Hyderabad FC. Two days prior to the fixture, the head coach attended the press conference.

Here’s what he said.

Ferrando wary of Odisha FC threat

Juan Ferrando is very cautious of the challenging game against Odisha FC, as he spoke about his opponents and said: “This match on Thursday won’t be easy because I spoke in the past that three teams are very strong, Mumbai City, Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC have started the season really strongly.

“The condition of Odisha is very good. It’s difficult when we play away, because you know the situation and they also have very good players. Their performances have been very good. It’ll be a difficult match, but we’ve prepared a plan and I hope we have success. This week is very important for us,” he added.

Thoughts on potentially going to top of the ISL table

The Mariners will jump to become joint-league leaders with Hyderabad FC if they can defeat Odisha FC. When asked if this gives more motivation to win, he said: “For us, motivation is always to get three points. Honestly, I don’t think it’s important to look at the table now – it’s important to look at it towards the end of the season. Now it’s not really our target. But the most important thing is to prepare for the game, which won’t be easy, and I hope to get three points. We’ll see what happens as East Bengal play against Mumbai after our game and Hyderabad also have matches.”

Updates on Hamill and Manvir

Brendan Hamill is back for ATK Mohun Bagan after missing the last game due to suspension. Ferrando refused to reveal his plans on how to use him, stating: “All the time I explain the same, we have 27 players. I’m happy for the squad. Of course, depending on the satiation, it’s necessary to change the plan.

“It’s a pleasure that Brendan comes with us, as everyone knows he’s played a lot of games with us. He’s an important player, but we’ll see if it’s necessary to play him in the starting XI or to bring him on for the last minute. We have two days and two training sessions. We’ll prepare the plan for the next match accordingly,” he added.

He also gave a short update on the fitness of Manvir Singh, who missed the last game through injury, adding: “He is with the physio and the doctor. We’ll take the decision on him in the last moment.”

Injury issues with foreign players

Juan Ferrando gave an injury update on some of ATK Mohun Bagan’s foreign stars and ruled them out for a long time. He said: “Florentin Pogba is still injured. He had surgery last Wednesday. He’s continuing process of the recovery. Joni Kauko is also out. Tiri is also on the process of recovery. We’ll have to consult the doctors on when these players can be available again.”

Will ATKMB sign replacements in January?

When asked if ATKMB are eyeing potential January transfers to replace their injured players, the Spaniard said: “The club is working in this situation. We are working to find the best possible replacements for injured players. It’s not easy because the quality of Pogba, Tiri and Joni is at a high level. It’s difficult to find players on the same level as them. But I’m happy that the club is working hard to find them and I’m happy that we can find good players with quality who are ready to come back and support the team.”

 “The club knows my point of view. We are working closely with the staff. We report to the management on what is necessary. The club is working on it right now. I’m happy as they are working hard to try to find the players I want,” he added.

Experience not a factor at ATKMB

Finally, upon hearing questions on how experienced players like Pronay Halder are being kept on the bench for the majority of the games or training with the U-21 squad, Juan Ferrando barked back saying: “We have 27 players. I never see the experience or CV of a player. I train 27 players for every match and then we decide the line-up. We take the players who are best for our plans. We don’t think about if they’re experienced or inexperienced.

“For me, it doesn’t matter if a player is 18, 19 or 25 – they’re considered to be at the same level of importance. It’s not important because football is an amazing sport where you must play like a team. If you play like a team, every player is on the same level. Of course, some players with a lot of experience know about the plans easily, they learn the details about attack and defence easier and some players need to learn the process of that team. But in football, that is normal. I’m never thinking about if I have too many experienced players on the bench and how they might be wasted. Honestly nothing like that,” he finished off with.

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