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My Players Looked Tired - Cotterill

Steve Cotterill admitted his players looked jaded after seeing City slip to a 2-1 defeat at home to Preston North End.

The Lilywhites made six changes following their FA Cup third round defeat at Peterborough United, while Cotterill’s only alteration was in goal – where keeper Richard O’Donnell made his debut on loan from Wigan Athletic.

The City boss felt that added freshness was a significant factor after Aaron Wilbraham immediately cancelled out Joe Garner’s opener, only for Ashton Gate old boy Greg Cunningham to head the winner ten minutes from time.

“I think the boys looked shattered and we couldn’t get going – in the first half especially,” Cotterill told Bristol City Player HD.

“Our passing wasn’t as crisp as it would be under normal circumstances. There was a fair bit of energy and emotion used on Saturday and we haven’t got that strength where I feel as though I can make a lot of changes.

“Tonight they gave everything. They gave all that they could give, but it wasn’t enough. They haven’t got anything else.

“I worried about tonight after all the emotion of Saturday, and we couldn’t get back up those heights.

“Their goalkeeper has pulled off three outstanding saves. Every time we play against them – his game up there last year, Pickford’s game up there this year and again tonight.

“Even though we were dead on our feet we still played better football than they did tonight. Unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the scoreline.

“They can leave out six players on Saturday. Okay, they got beaten at Peterborough, but when you bring six stronger players back in, that’s what can happen.

“I haven’t got that luxury. I have to put out what I feel is my strongest team all the time.

“We’ve got quite a few young players on our bench. The only experienced one we’ve got who’s been playing regular football for us has been Derrick (Williams).

“They’ve given their all, as they always do, but sometimes your all is not good enough when you’re in the shape that they were in tonight.”

Meanwhile, Cotterill confirmed Luke Freeman hobbled off with a dead leg and is a doubt for Saturday’s meeting with Middlesbrough at Ashton Gate.