With confidence high in the camp, Neal Ardley has challenged the players to keep their foot on the gas when we host Belper Town this Saturday.
The Nailers visit Meadow Lane looking to cause an upset and book their place in the Emirates FA Cup first round proper, but we’re in fine form and, on paper, are firm favourites to continue that run.
But Ardley knows the competition is famed for unlikely results and says our professionalism will be tested on Saturday.
“Every year there is a story so I’m hoping we’re not on the wrong end of it in these early rounds,” the boss told the media on Thursday.
“At this point it’s about getting through. If you go a couple of stages further and the big names are coming into the draw, that’s when the excitement can start.
“Without being professional, we’ll not get to that point. We have to enjoy the pressure that accompanies the tag of favourites and ensure we do nothing silly to earn a place in the hat.
“Confidence is as high as I’ve known it in my time here so it’s about keeping our foot on the gas or we’ll have problems on Saturday – that’s been my challenge to the group.”
Belper have beaten three teams from higher divisions on their route to the fourth qualifying round, and Ardley says the pressure is all on us.
“It’s a bit of a lose-lose situation,” he admitted. “Because of that I’m both excited and nervous.
“It’s a tricky tie and it’s never as easy as people think because you can't expect anything in this competition.
“They were unbeaten in 17 prior to last week, so they must be doing something right, and they carry threats and will get an extra 20 per cent out of their players on Saturday.
“We have to perform well and will be treating this game like any other – going out there to put in a good display and earn a result.”
The boss was quick to extinguish any talk of wholesale squad rotation, although Regan Booty’s fitness is slightly up in the air.
“I won’t be handing out places to those who haven’t deserved or earned it,” he stated.
“There might be one or two changes but we’ve created a team that players have to earn the right to be in.
“Those who have trained well enough and warrant a place in the squad will be. If you work hard and show you’re part of the group, you’ll give yourself a chance of being in and around it.
“Regan trained on Thursday after having a bit of a stiff back earlier in the week, so we’re hopeful he’ll be fine, and Damien McCrory has returned, too, which is great.”
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