Exeter City manager Matt Taylor is hoping his side can continue their winning run despite expecting a difficult encounter with Cheltenham Town at St James Park.
Town make the trip to Devon under new management in Michael Duff, who will be taking charge of his second game at the club and will be keen to build on a draw with Crewe Alexandra.
Ahead of the match, Matt said: “You’re never too sure what formation or tactics they will use. We plan the best we possibly can but, ultimately, it’s about our performance and the way we approach the game.
“If our mindset is right and the way we go about our business is proper, in terms of respecting the game of football, then we give ourselves a chance. It’s going to be difficult, it always is, the weather is starting to change, and we’ll have a bit more winter League Two football soon.
“Our standards don’t change regardless of results. We aim for high standards; the players have their own standards that they need to keep to. We know how tough this weekend is going to be, Mansfield away is seen as a tough fixture throughout the league campaign and Cheltenham at home against a new manager with a team that will be fighting for their lives will be a tough game for us.”
The Grecians go into the match following wins over Notts County and Mansfield Town, and Matt believes there is a good spirit amongst the City players and they have continued to train hard in the week ahead of what will be a tough test for his side.
“We’ve been positive this week,” said Matt. “We’ve trained well, and the lads have worked hard again as they have done throughout the season. The result at Mansfield was a good result but it’s only three points and it’s very much on to the next.”
The City boss has had to contend with the absence of central defender Troy Brown and experienced left back Craig Woodman, who are both set to spend time on the side lines following injuries. Matt revealed Troy has had surgery on his injury and Craig is continuing his recovery.
He continued: “Troy has had surgery today (Thursday) and fingers crossed it went well. We’ll only know the full extent when we speak to the surgeon and the physio.
“Craig is probably two or three weeks away, he knows his body better than anyone, so we won’t rush him in terms of his recovery time, but they are both important players for us so it’s disappointing not to have them at this time of year, but the rest of the squad have stepped up when they’ve had to, and they’ve got to do the same this weekend.”
With competition for places high in the City squad, the Grecians played out a reserve match with Forest Green Rovers in midweek to ensure players are given game time to enable them to slot into the first team when called upon.
With City winning 7-0 against a young Rovers side, Matt said the players who played in that match have done themselves no harm in pushing for selection.
He said: “The lads who played certainly went about their business in the right way with some really positive performances and minutes for players who needed them. Games like that will benefit us in the long run and, obviously, people will put their hands up for selection this weekend.
“The West Ham game (in the Checkatrade Trophy) next week is going to be important, I’ve said we’ve got a small squad and every player has to be ready and available to play for the first team. It keeps the fitness and the morale up, gives them game time when they need it. The more high-quality games we can get these players then the better they will be from it.”
With time ticking by on the development at St James Park with two new stands set to be in use in the coming months, Matt has revealed how much his side are looking forward to playing in a stadium with supporters in four sides of the ground.
Matt explained: “There’s more development to the stands at the ground, so the players are looking forward to seeing that progress being made, we’ve got to keep making progress on the pitch as well.
“It will be great when fans are in those stands, having two sides of the ground with no fans has been surreal over the past 12-18 months, but the players have coped with it pretty well, the home form has been pretty good. The players are pleased to see the development at the ground, it’s been such a long time without two big parts of the ground in terms of the stands.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, March 2 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.