Go for jugular, Dean demands

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date published: 14 April 2015

PLAYING it safe is a recipe for disaster for Athletic, according to manager Dean Holden.

Even without top scorer Jonathan Forte — whose knee injury could keep him out of action for the rest of the season — tonight’s visitors to Coventry will be gunning for more than a useful away point.

Four points behind Athletic and needing victory to ease clear of trouble, Tony Mowbray’s Sky Blues come up against an Athletic side boosted by the confidence of a refreshing effort against Sheffield United.

Holden, whose long-term future as manager remains unclear, wants to maintain a positive attitude to the task ahead in the remaining four games of the season.

Victory at the 32,000-capacity Ricoh Arena would put Athletic on 57 points — seven clear of Coventry and the club’s best tally for six years, with three games left.

“The focus is on three points and we have never played any game to go out and get a point,” Holden said.

“As soon as you put negative thoughts in the minds of players in terms of playing for draws, you come unstuck.

“We can put some distance between us and them as well and in that respect it is a big game for us. It is not too often you get the chance to play in these sorts of stadiums either. The lads are fully aware of what is expected of them with four games to go.

“They are playing for their futures as they are in every game. You play to stay in the team, to impress your manager and to get the best out of your career.”

Anthony Gerrard may not recover from his calf injury in time for tonight’s game but could be back to face Chesterfield on Saturday, while George Elokobi and Amari Morgan-Smith could be on the subs’ bench after returning to training. Joseph Mills, whose injury from the Sheffield United game is being assessed, will miss out.

Mat Sadler has returned to Rotherham after his emergency loan’s expiry, but Luke Woodland has signed for the remainder of the season. Woodland is currently with Bolton having treatment on a calf injury.

Dean Holden has indicated he wants to use the remaining games to give field time to players who haven’t appeared much this season.

twitter: @Matt_Chambers_