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Pragmatic Duff taking each game at a time 

As a new chapter begins at Swansea City under new head-coach Michael Duff, the Swans number one is keen to take every game as it comes as he looks to orchestrate his Swans side to be around the play-off picture at the end of the season.

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First up for the Jack Army in the new EFL Championship campaign will be a tough test against Birmingham City at the Swansea.com Stadium tomorrow afternoon (3pm).

John Eustuce’s Blues side, under new ownership, will no doubt provide a stern test having brought in multiple new signings including ex-Swan Ethan Laird and Wales international Tyler Roberts into their squad. 

The Swans boss, calm and unphased is focused however on his own side and feels his team is ready for the highly anticipated kick-off.

“I’m excited. All the hard work is to get ready for this weekend. We’re as ready as we can be, we have learnt quite a lot in pre-season from the games. Things we can and can’t do,” said Duff. 

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“It is alright me having my ideas, but it is seeing if they fit into the players already here and adapting it to the new players in the squad as well. It’s the first game for me and the first home game so I’m hoping to get off to a positive start. 

“I’m not a big one for making predictions, everyone will be saying the same thing at the start of the season. Let’s just see if we can win the first couple of games and see where we are after ten. That’s not me being negative, it is just that this is the most competitive Championship in a long time. 

“I know Eusti [John Eustace] very well. I have just done my football diploma with him, so I got to know him quite well as a person and a football man. 

“There’s new ownership there [at Birmingham] and they have signed eight or nine players. Watching them in pre-season, it looks like they are going to change the way they play a bit and become more expansive, and possession based.

“With the players they have brought in and some they have kept they are going to be competitive. You’re not going to get an easy game in this league. They will be doing exactly the same as us and will want to start the season on a positive note. 

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“Hopefully, we can get on the front foot early and keep the ball, press and the supporters will see that and want to come with us. 

“You look at the teams that came up into it, they are big teams and the teams that came down are very well supported financially as well. It is going to be really competitive.

“This is where we want to be, we want to try and work week-to-week, win every half of football and then see where we end up. That’s the way I work I’m not big on predictions. I don’t want to just talk about it, let’s just do it.” 

Having made six summer signings, Northern Irishman Duff is quickly starting to put his stamp on the Swans team with forward Jerry Yates and wing back Josh Key particularly impressive in pre-season, whilst the return of influential midfielder Joe Allen to full fitness after spending large parts of the previous campaign on the sidelines will feel like a new signing.

There will also be a big call for the former Barnsley boss over whether to select on-loan Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Carl Rushworth over Andy Fisher in the continued absence of first-choice Stevan Benda, believed to be out of action until the Christmas period. 

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Winger Josh Ginnelly has now recovered from injury and will be pushing for a place in the side, although there was bad news surrounding the fitness of midfielder Liam Walsh who has picked up a reoccurrence of an ongoing calf complaint and will remain out for at least another month.

 “Walshy has broken down, he’s felt a different part of his calf so it will be another four or five weeks before we see him. That’s a disappointing one for him,” continued Duff.

“He’s had a stop-start since he’s been here but there is not a lot, we can do about it. Until he is ready, he will be with the medics and then we will integrate him when we can. 

“Josh [Ginnelly] got a few minutes. He is really short and has hardly done any training since he has been in. Joe [Allen] has been a little bit stop-start but he is ahead of Josh. He is so important for us not just on the pitch but off it too with his experience and leadership qualities.

“We needed two first-team goalkeepers. Fish [Andy Fisher] has played in the Championship, and we think Carl is a good goalkeeper. We will make a decision tomorrow; the team has not been picked yet.” 

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(Lead image: Swansea City FC)

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