Hard work Squad set for mini pre-season ahead of derby
CHELTENHAM Town’s players are set for a mini pre-season ahead of their derby clash with Forest Green Rovers on October 20.
With no game this weekend after the game with Yeovil Town was called off due to the Glovers’ international callups, manager Michael Duff will take the chance to get his players up to speed after a hectic start to his reign at Whaddon Road.
Duff is still without a win after last weekend’s 3-0 loss at high-flying Milton Keynes Dons, meaning his side have lost to the sides in first, second and fourth in League Two in recent games.
But Duff is hoping the free fortnight will allow him to fully establish his style and methods on the players he inherited from ex-boss Gary Johnson.
Duff said: “You can put your head in your hands and feel sorry for yourself, but we have a big two weeks coming up now.
“We have to get a lot of work into them technically, tactically and physically.
“We are in this position so it’s up to us to get out of it.
“They are a good set of lads, but they need to be more ruthless with each other I think.”
Duff is used to international breaks having worked at Burnley and said: “It is about getting as much work into them as possible because it doesn’t get any easier and we have two tough away games next.
“This two weeks is going to be as close as I’ll get to a pre-season with them and a lot of work need to be done.
There will be for long days, with hard work and that was the plan anyway, even if we’d won or drawn with Milton Keynes it was always going to be the case.”
Next up is Forest Green, who went into this weekend’s game at Northampton as the Football League’s only unbeaten side.
But Mark Cooper’s men have won four and drawn eight of their 12 games, with one win and six draws at home.
Duff said: “We look forward to every game and each one is the next challenge, whether you are winning, losing or drawing it’s one game at a time.
“We know we need to be better in a few departments, but they have to take the challenge on. We take the positives and people will look at the result and get distorted by the 3-0, but it wasn’t a 3-0 game.”
The Robins were 1-0 down after 34 minutes to Chuks Aneke’s goal and then conceded two more after Aden Baldwin was carried off to Rhys Healey and Robbie Simpson’s stoppage-time penalty.
Duff said: “It’s difficult from a playing point of view because they are human beings and they’ve seen one of their mates get injured and it doesn’t look great.
“You can learn, but I don’t need to remind the players as they know they switched off.
“I didn’t think it was a 3-0 game and up until 80 minutes I thought we more than matched them. The referee missed a clear foul for the first goal and I thought we should have had a penalty as well in the first half. “There was no way it was a 3-0 game. “The last 10 minutes and injury time it looked like a top of the league team against a bottom of the league team, but I am not focusing on the last 10 minutes, I am on about the first 80 minutes which I thought we came away to a top club and big club at this level, with a big ground and a big budget and I thought we more than competed.
“I thought we more than matched them.
“For the first five minutes we were a little bit off, but after that we passed and pressed and looked like a dangerous team.”
Jacob Maddox battles with Dean Lewington in the defeat to MK Dons