Croft didn't want to hear final whistle
CHRIS LAKEY Lee Croft made a welcome return to the City ranks on Saturday - and after six weeks out he didn't want the game to end.
Lee Croft made a welcome return to the City ranks on Saturday - and after six weeks out he didn't want the game to end.
“I just wanted the game to continue for longer because I thought we put a bit of pressure on at the end,” said the right winger who came on for the last 35 minutes having missed almost two months with ankle ligament damage.
“If we had maybe another 10 minutes out there who knows, we might have got an equaliser because we were really pressing. We had some good chances but we need to start earlier and not wait to the last 15 minutes to start playing.”
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Croft was left to rue City's slow start, which left them chasing the game in the latter stages.
“The frustrating thing is why don't we start like that,” he said. “It seems to take us to go a goal down before we start playing and it's not good enough. We need to start playing from the start and start taking the game to teams rather than waiting to go a goal behind before we start to play.
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“We need to be a bit braver, get on the ball and we need to play them and we need to take the game to other teams rather than let them take them to us.”
Croft had watched from the subs' bench as 17-year-old Gareth Bale, who had equalised with a stunning free-kick just before half-time, ripped City apart down their right flank - and then found himself tasked with keeping the Saints wonder kid in his own half.
“I think he took it quick, maybe Gall (Paul Gallacher) was getting a wall together, but he has great ability and the gaffer said before the game we can't give away cheap free kicks,” said Croft. “We gave him two opportunities and it was only a matter of time before he put one away. That's really disappointing.
“He's a good player, he has a good future - I just think we needed to put him under more pressure rather than let him dictate and put us under pressure.
“That's what I tried to do when I came on, I tried to put him on the back foot rather than him running forward and causing us problems down the right hand side.”
Croft ended the game playing in a more central role - one he says he relishes.
“I have played there a few times with England youth teams,” he said. “I do like it, it gives you the option to go either way and take players on. I find players reluctant to track you when you are playing more central. The gaffer wants me to start inside more, which he wants from the wingers, to start inside and be more compact and when you get on the ball go and express yourself and go out and play. But whatever the gaffer wants me to do I'm happy.
“I enjoy playing anywhere where I can get on the ball and go and attack people.”
Croft now hopes a clear run at a week's training will put him in contention for a start at Wolves on Saturday.
“I felt good, once I got my second wind, I was a bit tired after 10, 15 minutes,” he admitted.
“Obviously it was going to be hard in my first game back, but to be honest I felt really good and I was really strong. I was trying to get on the ball as much as I could. I just hope now I have that under my belt I can get another week's training in and, touch wood, try and force my way back into the team for Wolves.”