Pre Wembley Kickabout

With no game this coming weekend, Jack Ross has arranged a behind-closed-doors friendly to keep the squad sharp. “This is the last opportunity to get any period of rest into the players because there’s no doubt that (nine League One games in 32 days after it) is going to be tough for us as a club. That’s challenging, I don’t care what anybody says. We believe we’re good enough to deal with it but we need every single person to contribute. I told them to clear their heads because for the next couple of weeks there’s nothing we can do about the league. Let’s enjoy the rest, enjoy the lead-up to the final and the final itself because that’s something that as a whole club we should enjoy. Bryan is the one who’s closest,” Ross added, “he’s just lacking match-fitness but hopefully we’ll address that this week. It’s a bit of a fractured week with some players on international duty. We’ll have a bounce game which will allow some players to maintain match-fitness for the games coming up. We’ll have a few days off as well to allow them to recharge for the games coming up after the cup final. It’s a bit different for us in terms of the whole structure of the week but it’s designed in a way that will hopefully help the players physically and mentally to enjoy the lead-up to the cup final, hopefully win the cup final, and then (enjoy) the period after that. I think they all understand they’re going to get opportunities between now and the end of the season because of the schedule we have. People probably want to make sure they’re at it and give themselves the best possible chance to play in the final but to their credit they haven’t really spoken about it. It’s not something we’ve mentioned much around the club. I’ve encouraged them to do that now. Once they get this rest out of the way I want them to enjoy the lead-up to the final because you just never know how often you’ll get to play in one.”

Meanwhile, Jimmy Dunne is still enjoying his loan spell at SAFC and believes the more game time he can get the better. “It’s the best route I could’ve gone down (being out on loan from Burnley). It’s offered me so much valuable experience because I’m playing games. It’s better than one million training sessions, so I’m lucky I’ve been able to get a lot of games in. I feel like I’m growing and becoming more of a man, whereas this time last year I was probably seen as a boy still. This is an environment where if you aren’t manly enough to step up then you have got no chance, so the route I have gone down has definitely been so beneficial to me.”