Yeovil Town’s players have committed themselves to bringing festive cheer to Huish Park after being shown training schedules for both success and failure over Christmas.
The Glovers warm up for the frantic fixture schedule on Saturday when they travel to Walsall, before playing Oldham Athletic, AFC Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Leyton Orient in the space of ten days.
Manager Gary Johnson believes the run of games could be crucial in maintaining their push for a npower League One play-off place and has warned the squad of the consequences of under-performing.
Each player has been told which days they will need to report for training if they win or lose games, with the team understandably preferring the option that allows them more time with family and friends.
Johnson said: “Every team in any position in the league will see that coming out of Christmas and the New Year will show them whether they are competing for a play-off space, if they are fighting against relegation or if they are still in any of the trophies.
“We could come out of Christmas and New Year in a very strong position or you could be in a weaker position.
“We want to come out of it strong but we have some difficult games and trips to Bournemouth and Portsmouth are not going to be easy over a two or three-day period for a small squad. But we know the importance of coming out of that period in contention.
“We have done our Christmas schedule for the players. I asked them if they wanted the schedule for doing well or the schedule for not doing so well because they are different.”
The Glovers bounced back from a dismal defeat to Carlisle United at the end of last month by beating Wycombe Wanderers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and then drawing 0-0 with Notts County last weekend. The upturn in performances came on the back of a tough week’s training.
Even though displays and results have improved, Johnson said the squad was still being put through its paces during the week. He said: “The workrate in training has not eased off. When you have had a decent performance they now know that the hard work is not punishment, it is just to keep them going.”
Johnson is keen to maintain the workrate displayed last weekend when he takes his side to Walsall. He said: “You are always looking to carry on where you left off, especially as it was a performance that was needed and was worked on throughout the week.
“We go into the Walsall game looking forward to that workrate again because if all else fails you have got to have a workrate to get back up the league. I’m sure Walsall will be competitive on the day and we have got to be ready for it.”
Johnson added that Nathan Ralph could be out until after Christmas after initially expecting him to return for the visit of Oldham. The left-back is running again after having a cyst on his knee removed and cartilage repaired but is still on the road to fitness.
However, Lewis Young could soon be back in contention. The winger has been missing since the start of October when he damaged ankle ligaments just seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute against Portsmouth.
Irish midfielder Kevin Dawson has been training at Yeovil this week as Johnson considers a potential January swoop. The 22-year-old has teamed up with the Glovers during the League of Ireland’s closed season, having played 34 times for Premier Division outfit Shelbourne last season.
With Korey Smith returning to Norwich City after the Oldham game, Yeovil could end the year with only Ed Upson and Dominic Blizzard as recognised senior central midfielders.
Defender Dale Bennett has had his loan at Yeovil cut short after suffering a back injury.
The 22-year-old returned to Championship outfit Watford on Saturday.