ROBERTS | "You have to earn the shirt at the back, which is the way it should be"

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Mon 08 Apr 2019

Fit-again Kevin Roberts is hopeful of a run in the Wrexham first team after playing the full 90 minutes as the Dragons beat Braintree at the weekend.

Roberts has been hampered by injury in the second half of the season, but hopes a run of games will see him recapture his best form after Wrexham secured a big three points in the promotion race.

And the right-back is hopeful the fact the win takes Wrexham a step closer to a guaranteed play-off place will ease some of the pressure on the players too.

“The Braintree game was the first time I’ve played two games in a row since January and I think that showed performance-wise compared to my other two,” he said.

“I wasn’t myself against Barrow and then against Ebbsfleet as well. Certain players are different, and I need to play a run of games to make myself feel back to normal.

“Hopefully now I can keep the standards I showed against Braintree up until the end of the season.

“I think everyone in the club, the players, the fans and everyone, once they see the play-offs are looking more likely we might relax a bit. It might ease a bit of pressure on the lads.

“When we went up against Braintree it showed – obviously they’ve been relegated and not in great form – but the way we controlled the game was back to our old selves.”

Next up for Wrexham is an away trip to Barnet, where manager Bryan Hughes is keen for the team to put a run of away results behind them too.

And Roberts believes exerting more control over the game, and not panicking, will be a key factor in that.

“We just need to concentrate on, first and foremost, keeping a clean sheet,” he said. “Our mindset needs to be, keep a clean sheet, don’t panic – same as we do at home – and hopefully we can control the game a little bit more.”

With centre-back Jake Lawlor suffering a dislocated shoulder at the weekend, it will be a new back-four combination for Saturday’s game – with Kieran Kennedy set to return at centre-back.

And Roberts believe defensive strength in depth has been one of the key improvements over last season for Wrexham.

“I think that’s the difference from last year to this year. Last year, if any of the back four got injured, there was only Carra to slot in – there was just the five of us really,” he explained.

“This year, there’s really good strength in depth. There are not many players who can say they are first choice – you have to earn the shirt, which is the way it should be. It shows the level we’ve got at the back.”

Roberts, who went up through the play-offs with Cambridge in 2014, insists the club’s target remains, at a minimum, a top-three finish this season.

And he is also keen for the club to find some momentum going into the play-offs – even though the Us were actually out-of-form at the end of that aforementioned 2013/14 season.

“We never get too down or beat ourselves up,” Roberts said of the spirit in the changing room. “The last few weeks has been more frustration really that we threw a chance at the league away. That’s the simple way to put it, we fell away.

“We always knew getting another win would put us back in contention for second or third spot, which is the main aim at the minute.

“We want second and third, obviously. The league’s not over mathematically but realistically at the minute if we just try and win game by game and push second or third, you never know in the last two games of the season we might be in with a chance.

“But we want that home tie for the play-off semi-final.

“People say you need momentum but Shaun, when he went up with Grimsby, and when I went up with Cambridge, we had zero momentum going into the play-offs.

“It is more positive to have momentum, but it’s not the end of the world if we don’t. Personally, I’d like to have the momentum going into it, because it should mean we’d have finished second or third too.”

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