Croft responds to pep talk
Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 21 March 2013
A HEAD to head meeting off the pitch paid dividends for Lee Croft.
Athletic's right winger is already benefiting from a new diet at the instigation of goalkeeping coach Paul Gerrard - and now manager Lee Johnson is applying more pressure on the former Manchester City winger.
The talent of Croft (27) isn't really in any doubt at this level. But everyone knows that isn't enough. Croft realises that after 45 appearances to date, he should have scored.
Johnson has analysed all of Athletic's games over the past month. Having been "run ragged" by Croft when Croft was at Norwich and Johnson at Bristol, Johnson wants more work, more goals and the acceptance of some responsibility to help lead the team in attack. There is no longer a comfort zone.
"The gaffer had a one-on-one with me on his first day," said Croft. "He told me what he wanted from me, to get me playing well and having an influence on the team wherever I can. He is a really good guy.
"It is bizarre that he’s ended up managing me — only a couple of years after we played against each other.
"He has the respect of all the players. We all worked hard for him, as everyone saw, and I am sure he will be a success."
If Johnson can spirit up two wins from two attempts on Saturday, Shrewsbury will be only two points clear having played two games more. Another rival reeled into the mire means a slimmer chance of Athletic ending up in the bottom four.
"It was a great start for the manager," added Croft. "The gaffer said to us before the game 'let's put them to bed'.
"The aim is to put as many teams behind us as we can and to pull in those teams ahead of us in the table.
"We are out of the bottom four and have games in hand over others. It is in our hands and hopefully we can kick on from here.”
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