Nolan: I'm More Than Capable of Hitting Double Figures
Wednesday, 18th Sep 2019 11:03
Jon Nolan hopes his winning goal away against the MK Dons last night will be the first of many with the midfielder believing he is capable of hitting double figures this season.
Nolan, making his first League One start of the season, turned Emyr Huws’s left-wing cross into the net in the 12th minute as the Blues dominated the first half.
The Dons put Town under pressure in the second half back the defence remained resolute to record a fourth successive clean sheet since a run of five in a row during March and April 2013.
“The gaffer said to us at full-time that it was a game of two halves,” Nolan said afterwards. “The first half we showed our quality on the ball, we passed it around really nicely.
“And then in the second, there was that will to keep a clean sheet. We’re going to need both qualities in more than just one game this season if we’re going to win the league.”
The 27-year-old added: “It’s not going to be rosy, we’re not naive enough to think we’re just going to be able to pass the ball around for 90 minutes, we know it’s going to be tough.
“We dug deep with the lads putting their bodies on the line wanting to keep that clean sheet and wanting to keep the three points.”
Nolan was joined in midfield by Huws, who was also making his first league start of the season, and Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes, who have been regulars in the XI since the start of the campaign.
“It was a good blend in midfield,” the former Shrewsbury man reflected. “We’ve got unbelievable competition for places, loads of quality in the team.
“As long as everyone stays fit, the competition for places is only going to bring the best out of everyone."
Nolan, who missed pre-season and the first few weeks of the campaign proper due to calf problems, was pleased with his goal, his first of the season and his fourth for the club.
“I’m just happy to get off the mark really and just being back on the pitch contributing, helping the lads,” he continued.
“It’s been a tough a few months for me but I’m just glad to get off the mark today.
“I actually thought it was Garbs [Luke Garbutt] who supplied the cross but fair play to Ems, he’s put it on a plate and I was just happy to see it go in the back of the net.”
Nolan says it’s right that people expect goals from him and believes he could score plenty more in the months to come.
“I’m more than capable of getting double figures,” he insisted, “And that’s my target. I’ve got to help those forward lads and chip in. As long as I stay fit I’m more than confident I’ll be able to hit that target.”
Nolan previously hit 10 goals in a League One season - including one in the play-offs - for Shrewsbury in 2017/18 before joining the Blues.
He added: “I like making runs into the box. As I said last season, that header against West Brom was my first header, so I was gutted I couldn’t knock that in with my head. I think I was too scared of messing my fringe up on that one. I was just happy to see that goal go in the back of the net.”
Despite the game being his first full 90 minutes in League One this season, Nolan said he didn’t feel too bad - aside from a bandaged finger which sustained a knock in the second half- fitness-wise.
“It was alright, to be honest,” he said. “I think it was in the last 10 seconds I felt like a bit of cramp in the calf but other than that I felt alright.”
He says the Leasing.com Trophy match against Tottenham’s U21s a fortnight ago, in which he also played the full 90 minutes, helped him as he made his comeback.
“It was my first competitive game since April,” he recalled. “I’m really just over the moon to be contributing again and just back on the pitch with the lads playing in front of those travelling fans, it was amazing tonight.”
He says it was tough to be sidelined for so long: “I think every player will tell you being injured is the worst and I’m probably the worst injured person.
“I’m miserable as it is but when I’m injured you don’t want to be speaking to me! But hopefully I’ll just stay fit now and contribute some more.
“[It was also a hard time] for the missus, but I’m just glad it’s all behind me and from now on hopefully I can just stay fit.”
He added: “It was two injuries. It was my left calf towards the end of last season and then it was my calf at the start of pre-season.
"That was basically like a four-month injury which it shouldn’t have been. But that’s all behind me now and I’m looking forward to scoring some more goals.”
Despite Skuse and Downes having established themselves as the first pick central midfield pairing in the opening weeks of the season, Nolan says he wasn’t worried about not getting his chance.
“No, not concerned,” he said. “I want the lads to do well because if they’re doing well it means we’re wining games.
“Competition for places is healthy and I’ll back myself to get in the team and when I do get in the team to contribute and deliver as I did tonight but hopefully there’s more to come.”
Nolan is confident the squad has what it takes to stay in the promotion hunt all season with the Blues currently second, one point behind Coventry with a game in hand.
“That’s what we’re all aiming for, we want to get promoted, we want to win the league,” he continued.
“We’re up there now and keep knocking them off. Saturday’s going to be another tough game [at Gillingham] but I’d back us every week.”
He says he’s now fully over the injury frustrations and, keen to make up for lost time, has no concerns about facing the Gills on Saturday and then Tranmere the following weekend.
“Yep, I’m back,” he grinned. “This is the first time I’ve smiled in four months!”
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