Manager on trip to in-form Tynesiders
Tough, difficult, tricky, hard, challenging, demanding – insert your choice of word depending on your fancy ahead of Saturday’s trip to Gateshead.
For John Still it’s a simple “tough” as the Town make their longest journey of the season. Gateshead have, after all, won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions.
Tough or not, the boss, however, is confident his side can do the business in the north east – should they play to their best. And – after all – the Hatters are unbeaten in nine games…
“I’ve lost track of the times that people have said this is a test, this is a test, this is a test. Honestly they’re all tough games, all of them,” Still told the posse of journalists gathered at the Town’s Ely Way training ground on Thursday.
“We can only prepare right, make sure that we go there and stick to how we believe we should play and that’s all you can do.
“You can only control the controllables. Gateshead may have their best day of their season, where everyone’s on fire. We can’t control that. All we can control is our approach and our approach by and large this season, take Southport out of the equation, has always been decent.
“We’ve not always played great, but I’ve never had any concern over our approach. Even away at Wrexham, I had no concerns about our approach. My only concern at Wrexham was the manager picked the wrong team.
“We’ll approach Gateshead properly and if we’re as I know we can be...People say it’s a tough game. Yeah, it is a tough game, but it’s a tough game for them as well.”
The Town embark on their longest trip of the season on Friday – training at Leeds United on the way up – buoyed by news that Scott Griffiths is available after the left-back was a late omission from the starting line-up at Woking with a knee problem.
Captain Ronnie Henry should be available despite sitting out of training during the week with a knock, whilst Elliot Justham and Anthony Charles also picked up niggles in the development squad’s 4-3 defeat at Reading on Tuesday but should also be okay to feature.
Alex Lawless and former Gateshead centre-forward Jon Shaw, however, remain unlikely to make the trip to the International Stadium.
“The problems are coming with Alex because he’d had an injury that had kept him out for a while,” explained Still.
“He’s probably trying to push himself a bit too hard to get back and getting a few little injuries. They’re not nasty injuries, but they’re just halting his progress a little bit. So we might just slow him down a little.
“Jon Shaw is a bit like Alex in that he’d had an operation and is pushing himself a touch too hard.
“We’ve tried to put the reins on, but fair play to the players because they want to get fit.”