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INTERVIEW: This is where it really matters

7 March 2017

Danny Grainger on his return to the side against Plymouth

We spoke to club captain Danny Grainger on Monday morning about his return to the side against Plymouth at the weekend.

“Saturday was frustrating,” he said. “We’re going into every game wanting to win and expecting to win. We started well, they had a couple of little chances, which they’re always going to get as the home team, but they didn’t carve us open.

“We obviously had the disallowed goal. From the TV angles you can’t say conclusively whether it was offside or not, but having spoken to Reggie [Lambe] and Nicky [Adams] they were sure it wasn’t.

"We aren’t getting the rub of the green with decisions like that at the moment. The penalty was disappointing, then after half time I thought if he’s given the one against Shaun [Brisley] he’s got to give us one for hand ball. He maybe didn’t mean it but he’s stopped the ball going where it should have been going.

"Jabo [Ibehre] put the ball in the net a minute after that and we didn’t get that one either. That's when you do wonder what's been going on. We aren’t going to feel sorry for ourselves, there’s a lot of disappointment, but it’s down to us in the dressing room to make sure we put it right.

"The training sessions down in Bristol last week had a fantastic tempo on the back of the Cheltenham defeat. The lads wanted to get back on the training pitch as soon as they could and it will be the same this week. We’ll be working hard and making sure we’re ready come 3pm on Saturday."

The team captain confirmed that some tough talking had been done in the dressing room following the full time whistle on Saturday.

“We’re an honest bunch," he told us. "We speak up if we think we can be better and that was the case at the weekend. Joycey [Luke Joyce] walked in and held his hands up straight away. It isn’t just him, we’ve all made silly mistakes this season. They’re blatant and it’s something we have to cut out quickly.

"We know we haven’t kept enough clean sheets, but it isn’t just about the defenders. Everyone knows it’s us as a squad who need to work harder to get those clean sheets. I’m more than confident in the lads in the dressing room that we can get the job done.

“We could sit here and take the negatives out of everything but as I said last season I’ve changed my mindset a bit over the last couple of years. I look at the positives. People are still chasing us and they still need to get points on the board to get above us in the league.

"Portsmouth play Crawley tonight and we know they could climb above us, but I still think it’s in our hands. If we put a good run together - there are 11 cup finals left - and if we go out and do our business I’m confident we’ll get out of this league."

“We’ve worked hard to get where we are," he said. "If you look from the turn of the year we’ve been on a terrible run and we haven’t picked enough points up, but we’re still third in the league.

"That shows how much work we'd done at the start of the season to get ourselves into a great position. If we can put a run together that’s even half as good as the one we went on at the start of the season we’ll get promoted, it's as simple as that."

On the injury picked up in the Luton away game which ruled him out for just over two months, he said: "It’s been a hard ten weeks. I was obviously frustrated during the first five or six weeks because I couldn’t do a lot until I got the green light from the specialist.

"Lee [Fearn] and Dolly had a lot of time with me and they know how frustrated I was. They gave me days off when I needed them and pushed me when I needed it.

"To be fair, those two lads have been fantastic. They've picked me up when I needed it and they've pushed me when they knew I could take it. They're a big part of the reason why I was able to get through 90 minutes."

“I was delighted when I got the green light from the specialist because it meant I could really kick on," he explained. "We’ve had Jake Simpson helping out as well, and he’s been pushing me through things in the gym while Dolly and Lee were up at the training ground, so he’s been a massive help.

"All three of them have really helped me and pushed me on to make sure I came back in good condition. I probably surprised myself on Saturday with how good I felt, although it wasn’t the same when I woke up on Sunday morning! I was delighted to come back in the shape I did and it was even better to play 90 minutes."

“I’m looking forward to getting that partnership going with Nicky [Adams] again," he admitted. "On Saturday I just wanted to give him the ball because he had the better of their right back from the word go.

"I tried to play from behind him and bit more and keep Jervis with me so he was one against one. I think Nicky will be looking forward to us hopefully getting a link up down that side again and we’ll both hopefully get a few crosses in."

Looking ahead to another busy weekend of football, he said: “The two home games coming up are massive. It’s the business end of the season now. If you look at Wimbledon last year, no one was talking about them until the last five or six games of the season, and they managed to go up.

"This is where it really matters. What we’ve done up to now means nothing if we don’t go and put something together in the last 11 games. I’m sure we will.

“The confidence is obviously going to be slightly low, in terms of not trying that pass or that little bit of doubt, because of the recent results, but the lads are all behind each other.

"They know when they have to be told and they know when they need an arm round them. It’s a great bunch of lads and hopefully those who came in during January can give us that boost and get us over the line."

"What I would say to the fans ahead of the Cambridge game is that we need them to stick with us and get right behind us," he concluded. "We know how well we can play and we know how frustrating we can be at times, but please stick with us and make sure Brunton Park is bouncing at 3pm on Saturday.”

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