Hatters defender Martin Cranie has praised the mentality of the squad ahead of tomorrow’s game against Charlton Athletic, insisting the club have now ‘given themselves every opportunity to get out of the bottom three’.
Having been ten points adrift at one stage, back-to-back victories have lifted the Town off the bottom of the Championship table and to within four points of safety.
The former Barnsley and Huddersfield Town defender played his part in the recent upturn, helping the Hatters keep a clean sheet at Middlesbrough last Saturday.
He said: “We have got a strong squad – I think when everyone is fit we can really compete in this league as we have shown. There have been some games where we haven’t given a good account of ourselves, but I think over the season, we have competed in most games. We have got most of the boys back fit and hopefully it can stay that way for the rest of the season and we can finish strongly.
“The amount of points left to play for, you’re never down and out until it’s mathematically done. We knew we had to only put a run of a couple of games together to get ourselves back within touching distance of the clubs above us. It’s another game on Saturday that gives us a chance to try and get closer to a few teams above us.
“I think all the remaining games are massive for us, starting with Saturday. They’re one of the teams potentially in the relegation fight with us – well they are in the relegation fight with us and a few more teams. But I don’t think we will treat this game any differently to how we treat the Brentford game, we go in aiming for the three points.
“I think it’s a lot to do with the belief of the lads, if you get too bothered about where you are in the league, you can fall away from it and get left behind. We’ve been in that position – ten points off it, I think it’s shown the belief here that we can get back in it.
“We could have been down by the start of April – but the strength and character of the dressing room has shown the boys are up for a fight, we really believe we can do it.
“The clean sheets gives confidence to the whole team, I think not even just the defence. It shows how well we are working in certain formations to grind out clean sheets.
“We were shown some clips the other day that showed the boys who are playing on the wings and up front are working from the front, if we can chalk out a few more clean sheets, we should be alright.”
Having had a stop-start campaign with a knee injury, Cranie is hoping he has put the issue behind him now, with the versatile defender explaining he has never had a prolonged spell out injured in his career.
“I have spent a lot of time this season on the side-lines, so it’s just nice to be back in training and to get a game under my belt on Saturday. Fingers crossed I can stay injury free for the rest of the season,” he continued.
“It was my knee again – the same as the first one back at Sheffield Wednesday when I did my medial. Then there was a tackle late on in the game against Millwall that just opened my knee up again. But I have been working hard to strengthen it up, fingers crossed it’s fine now.
“It’s been really frustrating for me, because I have never really suffered with injuries or been out for a prolonged period of time. So for me to have missed as much football as I have done has been very frustrating, but I have got back to being fit and hopefully I can stay fit.”
Town have built up some much-needed momentum in recent weeks, having struggled for form over Christmas and the New Year.
The 33-year-old puts it down to a change in mentality in recent weeks – and he hopes his experiences of relegation battles at previous clubs means he can help advise players through the Hatters’ current predicament.
Cranie said: “I have been in this situation a couple of times with different clubs, so I know what it’s like to be at the bottom. I have been relegated, so I know what that feels like, but I have also survived relegation from a similar position to what we’re in now.
“I have said to the lads, ‘look, it’s far from over at the minute’. The way we are going, we have given ourselves every chance of getting out.
“Maybe one game changes it, maybe work on the training ground, formations, players. I think there is a lot down to it [the change in momentum]. I could tell from the game on Saturday, ten minutes in I thought ‘we’re not going to concede today’. I could just feel it on the pitch, the way we were playing – everyone was pressing, talking, there was a really good vibe around the pitch.”