PRE-MATCH INTERVIEW: SHAUN DERRY
Cambridge United Manager Shaun Derry believes that the “mental strength” can be a huge influential factor during the closing stages of the Sky Bet League Two season.
The U’s currently sit in 11th position, four points off the all-important top seven with a host of teams chasing down play-off ambitions in a tight League Two ladder. Derry believes the team with the best mentality is likely to prevail at this stage in the campaign as the U’s look to dust themselves down for an exciting climax to the season.
He said: “The final third of the season is dictated by the mental strength of players. We aren’t going to get any fitter now, the physical work is done in the opening two thirds of the season.
“We all have a goal in mind and all want to achieve it, and while ever it is still attainable then that will be our target for the remaining 15 games of the season.
“Our task is that with 45 points still left to play for, we don’t ever want to give a point away. Every goal we concede between now and the season, needs to be a goal earned by the opposition.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t perform how we would have liked at Stevenage, but we must take that on board because between now and the end of the season, we may have one or two more of those games.
“That won’t define where we end up though, that will be decided by how we can respond to those setbacks.”
Meanwhile, Charlton Athletic striker Karlan Ahearne-Grant has returned to The Valley following his one month loan spell with the U’s.
Derry commented: “Unfortunately it never quite happened for Karlan while he was with us, however he is still a good footballer and I’m sure he’ll do a great job wherever he moves onto in the future.
“On another occasion he goes through one-on-one in his first five minutes of his first game at the Abbey Stadium, scores, and the story unfolds slightly differently but that is the nature of football.”
Discussing the players he does have available in his armoury this weekend, the United Manager added: “Conor [Newton] is going to be missing again this week which is a loss for us, but other than that the group is almost the same 18 or 19 players that we had available last week.
“It is a tight group and sometimes when you work with low numbers that can galvanize the players because everybody realises they have a big part to play.
“We’re all looking forward to playing back at the Abbey Stadium again with the vocal support of our home fans.”
Tickets for the game are available online, in-store and over the phone by calling 01223 566 500 now, with supporters encouraged to purchase before Saturday to make a £2 saving off full match day prices.