Graham Kavanagh ahead of the Oldham game
Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us ahead of the visit of Oldham Athletic at the weekend.
“We’re in a position at the moment where we quite clearly need a result,” he said. “The next three games will make or break our season and I had a conversation with the players on Wednesday about what could happen.
“It was all based on us winning at least two of the games and that has to be our target. Hopefully we can implement the first stage of that on Saturday.”
“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few nerves around at the moment,” he added. “I think the recent performances have shown that. The group hasn’t really been able to cope when things have gone against us and that’s when we talk about needing leaders.
“You try to do as much as you can from the sidelines but it’s the players who need to pick things up on the pitch. Players who are natural leaders bring a calming influence and I think that’s what we’ve been missing a little bit.”
“I think Saturday is a must win game,” he agreed. “We have to get at least four points from the next two games – but that’s a minimum. We can then go into the Wolves game, where few people will give us a chance, with everything to play for.
“Some good results would take a bit of pressure off and we’ve reminded the players that this club has done some amazing things on the last day of the season over the past 20 years. We stayed up against Millwall, we beat Norwich, when we were told we didn’t stand a chance, and there is obviously the Jimmy Glass goal. The club is capable of producing that type of moment and we’ll find out if this group can add to that over the next eight to ten days.”
On the injury situation, he said: “It’s been horrendous for us all season. I’ve been reflecting a lot on where things have gone wrong this season and injuries definitely haven’t helped. We’ve juggled the squad, changed the shape of the team and we’ve tried to bring players in to make us better. It’s been a bit stop-start for us and it has brought us to where we are at this moment in time.”
“Sean O’Hanlon has trained so we’re waiting to see where we stand with that,” he said. “Paul Thirlwell will now be out for the rest of the season, so that’s another blow for him and us, and we’re also uncertain about Liam Noble.
“He tells us he wants to train and give it a go but time will tell with that one. There are certain injuries you can play with, but he has a calf problem, and that’s not something you can run off. We’ll see what intensity he trains at and we’ll take it from there.
“We’ve had one or two more from the games recently but we’re hoping they will be fit for Saturday. I know we’re at a stage where we have to gamble with some but we also don’t want to take too many uncalculated risks.”
“This is an important game for us and we’re determined to do it right,” he insistedd. “We’ll try to take the shackles off but we have to be aware that Oldham are a threat. They will definitely be playing with freedom, having got themselves safe, so they will be a different type of animal to what we’ve seen recently. We have to face that head on and we have to deal with the expectancy of us being at home. I want us to be in their half as much as we can and I want to encourage balls into Gary Madine so that we’re on the front foot.
“We’re heading towards being in the last chance saloon but it is still very much in our hands if we can perform to the levels we know we can reach. We’ve generally played well at home and I’m hoping we can do so again. We want to give the fans something to cheer and shout about and I hope they leave the stadium on Saturday believing that we will be a League One team.
“The fans need to see the players are prepared to do the work and they’ll react to that. If the body language is negative and down then the reaction from the stands reflects that. The sessions this week have been about getting some belief back into the way we play and about making sure we are always communicating with each other. If we look after the small details they will come together to make us much better collectively.
“It’s been a difficult month, with some poor results, but we need to bounce back again. All I can say to the fans is come and support us, and get behind us, because it’s a game we know we have to try and get a result from. We know what we’re capable of if we have everyone in the stadium behind us and a young group like this needs as much encouragement as it can get. I’m hoping we will give the fans what they so desperately want.”
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