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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Friday, March 9th 2018

Players must relish Championship challenge - Johnson

Lee Johnson says his players must "enjoy and relish" the business end of the season.

City continue to find themselves in a fight for the play-offs and remain only one point behind sixth-placed Middlesbrough.

They take on league strugglers Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday (March 10, 3pm kick-off) who have endured a tough season to date.

The Brewers sit 23rd in the Sky Bet Championship, with only seven league wins all season.

However, City know well the dogged performances of those further down the table, meaning they won't expect an easy ride on Saturday afternoon.

The match comes off the back of defeat to Preston North End but Johnson wants his players to show the same fight and football they displayed on Tuesday night, while eradicating the errors. 

The City head coach told BCTV: "You can never guarantee the win, the performance is what is important and I thought our performance against Preston was very good.

"In the second half we were fantastic, what we can’t legislate for however, are the individual errors which led to the goals we conceded. Sometimes that’s the by-product of having a young group: they make mistakes and we have to make sure we score more goals.

"We had five unbelievable chances to kill the game off, even when we were 1-0 down.

"Preston are a very good side and we have to take that into account. No game is easy, we have another on Saturday and I’ll take playing the way we have played in the last two games right now."

WHAT HE SAID:

"Defensively there will be changes considering the suspensions we have but that’s the challenge. Who knows, maybe I will do something crazy and change the formation!"

Head coach Lee Johnson

'EXPECT CHANGES AT BURTON'

"It’s the business end of the season and games are difficult for everybody.

"There have been surprises with teams at the top being beaten by sides at the bottom of the table. It’s good that this year we are fighting at the top end and it’s a different type of pressure which the boys have to enjoy and relish.

"We are getting stronger although defensively there will be changes considering the suspensions we have to Joe Bryan and Aden Flint but that’s the challenge. Who knows, maybe I will do something crazy and change the formation!"

With suspension and injuries still affecting the squad, Johnson said he will have to call upon new faces, who he has fulll confidence in being able to step up.

"We have to believe in our players but it’s up to them," he said.

"We saw Magnusson make the mistake [which led to Preston’s first goal] and Lloyd Kelly has been chomping at the bit, knocking on my door every other day asking ‘when am I going to start?’"

PRAISE FOR CLOUGH

Johnson played for Brewers boss Nigel Clough, when on loan from City at Derby County in 2010.

Knowing Clough's management skills, he believes his former manager remains "the right man" to save Burton from relegation.

Johnson continued: "I always think Nigel is the right man. I played under him myself, he has a difficult task there because of their resources.

"The Championship is is the big boys' league now after they survived last season. They have done well in the loan market and they have some good experience. They were the group that nobody else wanted and by that I mean because it’s seen as unfashionable to sign players who are 31/32 years of age.

"A lot of these players have more experience than our players and its up to us to, as always, to make sure that we impose our strengths on their weaknesses."

CITY FANS SELL OUT PIRELLI STADIUM AWAY END

The Robins faithful will pack out the away end in Burton this weekend, meaning 1,741 supporters will be travelling to the Midlands.

Anybody without a ticket is advised not to travel.

Reflecting on this news, Johnson responded: "I love that! I thought there would be a few more at Preston although it was difficult to get to.

"To the people who went, they were unbelievable and went beyond the call of duty. Coming back was horrendous because of closures on the M5 so massive credit to those who went.

"I think some will have saved themselves for the game against Burton due to circumstances and I’m looking forward to the noise they can make. We’ll be doing everything we can to make sure we get the win away from home, even though it will be a really tough game against a side with great spirit and good individuals."

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