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Vital to have fortune on your side Johnson

Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 18 April 2014

LUCK is a key ingredient for success argues Lee Johnson — unless you are one of Sky Bet League One’s ‘big four’.

Athletic’s manager hopes soon to reach the safety mark, which will allow him to put together contract offers for next season.

Leyton Orient this season or Yeovil the campaign before are the models of success for budget-conscious Athletic to follow - but a level of fortune which has eluded his side this term aided the cause of those two clubs, Johnson argues.

When asked about the impact of the loss of a player of Leon Clarke’s calibre for Monday’s visitors Coventry — the ex-Athletic loan striker joined first club Wolves in the last transfer window for a reported £750,000 — Johnson cited other examples where the absence of key men had adverse repercussions.

“The only clubs in this division with solid strength in depth are Rotherham, Brentford, Wolves and Preston,” said Johnson. “With everyone else you need a little bit of luck. Orient have had it. They have been fantastic, but they kept all their best players fit until recently, when they have started to struggle.

“You only have to look at Yeovil last year. They were very lucky with injuries — and when they did occur, they lost six on the spin.

Bradford are the same. They lost Nahki Wells who was a top player and have hardly been able to deal with it. If you have the financial clout to be able to get 20 solid League One players, you are going to be up there. Because you have the back-up to do it.”

As for hitting the points target needed to be completely safe from relegation, Johnson reckons that Athletic can get busy once they reach 53.

“I think 51 is going to be enough (to be safe),” he said. “With 49 you could get away with it, but you will be going into the last day. Get to 53 and you are nailed on.

“If we can get to 53 over this weekend, then we are straight into contract talks.”

 

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