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McCarthy: Squad Benefited From Break
Friday, 3rd Apr 2015 06:00

Blues boss Mick McCarthy believes his squad have benefited from being given four days off over the weekend.

“They’ve come back and they’ve been really sharp,” he said. “They were in Monday, Tuesday was the golf day in the howling wind and rain, and Wednesday and Thursday they’ve trained really well, they look sharp.

“They look like they’ve benefited from the break. We’ve played 39 games and a lot of them have played most of them.

“And, of course, two of them who played in most of them, Christophe Berra and Murph, were both away with their respective countries.

“It was absolutely the right thing to do, let them have a few days at home with their wives and kids and enjoy that time.”

By contrast, today’s opponents Bournemouth went to Dubai for a five-day warm weather training camp, a reward for a return to form after an indifferent spell.

McCarthy says the results of today’s game and Monday’s visit to Huddersfield could prove pivotal in Town’s season.

“We could be right back in it to win the league or finish in the top two, or we could be right out of it and licking our wounds again.”

He says he’s looking forward to the final month of the season: “I’m looking forward to the run-in because we’re in a play-off spot. We’re trying to get out of the league at the right end and not the bottom.

“It’s exciting. Of course it gets a bit stressful, a bit nerve-wracking for all of us, but that means we’re at the right end of the table and going for the right prize.”

McCarthy is the only manager of the clubs in the top eight to have won promotion from the Championship before and he hopes his experience and that of his players will give Town an advantage.

“I think experience is valuable in anything that you do,” the Blues boss added. “Whatever job you have, even as a player and what’s nice for us is that we’ve got experienced players.

“You look at the team, they’ve got a lot of Championship games between them and I would say a fair bit of Championship experience. Look at Murph, Chambo, Christophe and Skusey, they’re good leaders on the pitch. Experience counts.”

The Premier League is a great incentive for players such as skipper Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse who are yet to experience playing at the top level during their careers.

“And even the ones that have,” McCarthy points out. “The ones that haven’t had it will be hungry to have it for the first time, to taste it and sample it and all the riches and rewards that come with it and the kudos and the status that you enjoy as a player and as a club if you’re in the Premier League.

“We’re all desperate to get that but then so are Bournemouth, Watford, Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton pushing behind us, Brentford. We’re all doing the same.”

After today’s match the Blues don’t face any of the other top seven sides but McCarthy doesn’t believe that makes his team’s task any easier.

“All those outside the top seven are easy, he said with his tongue in both cheeks!” he laughed.

“Not at all. We’ve just seen that with Brentford, they just played Cardiff and Millwall at home and where are they in the league?

“Brentford came here and we had an excellent game against them, a terrific game. We looked at those fixtures and fancied Brentford. They didn’t beat either of them.

“We had Wigan here and we drew. We had Reading here and we lost. We went to Watford and won, so you try and win money in the Championship. I can’t gamble on it anyway but I wouldn’t.

“I don’t think it’s significant at all. They’re all fighting for something, even if it’s just for personal pride. They’re not going to roll over and have their bellies tickled by us, that’s for sure.”

McCarthy can’t recall the top of the division ever being tighter - “I don’t keep a yearly record but I haven’t known anything as tight as this” - and says it’s vital to keep your nerve, although believes that’s less of an issue in games such as today’s.

“I think that’s always the case, it’s just that it becomes more important because we’re running out of games,” he added.

“In a game against Bournemouth I don’t sense that they have to come here and hold their nerve because they know we’re a good side here.

“It’s not like they’re going to a bottom of the table team, that’s when you get nervous because everybody expects you to win.

“If we’ve got the third or fourth bottom coming here everybody turns up and the anticipation is that it’s an easy game and we’ll win, and it’s not. They’re the hardest games.

“We’re playing top of the table, best team in the league, in my opinion and probably everybody else’s, so there’s nothing to be nervous about.

“Might be if we’re 1-0 up and with three minutes to go they’re in our box, I’d be getting nervous then.”

Despite having lost in the Championship play-offs on three previous occasions, the Blues manager says he’s not in any way apprehensive if Town do find themselves involved come May.

“If you want the real stats I lost with Ireland twice as well! Make it five,” he added, “I did win with Ireland as well though, strangely enough.

“Why would I be apprehensive about them? Because people say it’s a lottery? How many people buy a lottery ticket every weekend?

“The person who won is feeling pretty good about themselves at the minute, that’s why they buy a lottery ticket.

“If I was apprehensive about it might as well just jack it in and we’ll finish seventh and we’ll not bother after 39 matches.

“No, I’m not apprehensive, absolutely not. I’d be delighted to be in the play-offs. If we can’t get in the top two I’d be delighted and really excited about it.”

Photo: Action Images

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muccletonjoe added 07:14 - Apr 3
Personally I would have rather carried on after two straight wins and the momentum after Watford. But I understand what mm is saying

bluefeast added 08:39 - Apr 3
Im nervous , if we don't win today the emphasis is on mondays game vs Huddersfield to win ,that adds pressure etc etc.

Paulblue62 added 15:00 - Apr 3
I'm with you muccletonjoe. Would rather have carried on, but with a nice few days off and the additions to the squad, they should be ready to kick on into our promotion push till the end of the season. Fingers crossed.

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