Simon expecting improved performance at the Valley
Simon Grayson has urged his players to stand up and be counted this weekend when they travel to Charlton in the Third Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser.
The clash offers Town a break from its league campaign which has seen them go the last ten games without a victory.
“It is just another game of football that we need to win,” said Simon on the Charlton game. “Whether it is a league or a cup match we want to win and hopefully a victory could give us that added confidence that we need going in to the Birmingham game. I want to win the game, but more importantly I want to see a performance from the players. I want to see that zest and energy that they had at the start of the season.”
Following Town’s heavy defeat at Leicester on New Year’s Day, Simon and his players held a team meeting to try and eradicate some of their recent failings.
“We had to have a meeting to address a number of things and discuss our current situation. The result against Leicester was probably something that was coming, but even so it was very disappointment and we needed to have a chat to try and put things right.
“I needed an opportunity to get my thoughts across and it also gave the players a chance to get their opinions over. We had a meeting because we want to get better and we don’t want a repeat of the Leicester result. The players haven’t become bad footballers over night; they have just lost a certain edge. The words we had count for nothing if the players don’t start producing over the next couple of weeks.”
He continued: “The score line and the performance against Leicester suggested that we had hit rock bottom, but you have to remember how good Leicester were on the day. They could have done that against team, it shows what can happen when you don’t perform to the best of your ability. It was disheartening to watch from the touchline because it was my team that I had put together.
“It is my job and my coaches’ jobs to get the best out of our current players and get them back to playing how they were at the start of the season. We need to instill the belief and confidence back in to the players.”
With the January transfer window now open, Simon hinted that incoming players could be on the horizon.
“When I spoke to Dean (Hoyle) a few weeks ago we talked about needing one or two players, but after the last few results we might need six or eight! The players I have are a good group of footballers, but something has just been missing. We need to eradicate New Year’s Day as quickly as possible with a couple of wins.
“Confidence is slightly lower than what it was at the start of the season, when we were playing well and passing the ball with a purpose – we looked a vibrant team. Every team in the league will have a period in the season where they have to dig deep and that is when the true characters within the squad emerge. I can’t guarantee that what we spoke about will make us win on the weekend, but hopefully it will bring about a better performance.”
Town are suffering on the injury front as well with two more players picking up knocks against Leicester.
“Alex (Smithies) suffered a dead leg against Leicester which has been improving over the past couple of days and we are hopeful that he will be fit for the weekend. If he doesn’t make the game we have got a fantastic replacement in Ian Bennett. Joel Lynch (hamstring) came off injured on New Year’s Day and the likes of Calum Woods (groin) and Danny Ward (knee) are still struggling.
Simon added: “We have also got one or two players who have been playing through knocks. Both Jack Hunt and Keith Southern were very close to missing the Leicester games because of knocks that they had picked up.”
Town fans can pay on the gate at Charlton from the away end turnstiles (cash only)!