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Bigger The Better For Johnston

Defender relishing Wednesday trip as Wanderers seek hat-trick of League One wins

8 October 2021

George Johnston is relishing the prospect of another big away-day as Wanderers look to move into the play-off places.

Wanderers take on Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in one of just four surviving League One games on Saturday.

A third successive league victory will lift Ian Evatt’s men into the top six.

And after two wins in their last three away games – wrapped around a battling 1-0 defeat at joint leaders Sunderland – Johnston is ready for another high-profile test against former top-flight opposition with 3,000 Wanderers fans going to South Yorkshire to give their backing.

“These games you look forward to even more than others. No disrespect to anyone else in the division but you want to be playing in these top games in front of a lot of fans,” said the Wanderers’ defender.

“It makes it even better performing well for them. They’ve travelled a long way to watch us play so we want to put on a show for them.

“I think the lads thrive off that. They love going to the away days in front of big crowds.

“If anything, it’s added even more to us this week in training. They’ve been good quality sessions preparing for Saturday.

“When we go to these places, the gaffer tells us to be even more brave with the ball, have even more courage and I think the lads take to that quite well.

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“We’ve shown that at Sunderland, Charlton, Ipswich – we’ve done well in them all –and hopefully Saturday will be the same.”

Johnston may be less than 50 first-team games into his senior career but he is no stranger to the big stage after coming through the ranks at Liverpool and cutting his teeth in the top-flight of Dutch football with Feyenoord.

After a spell battling relegation in League One with Wigan last season, the 23-year-old has quickly found his feet with Wanderers this season.

And the former Scotland U21 international is keen to build on his impressive start under Ian Evatt.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here so far,” Johnston added. “I feel like I’ve settled in well and I just want to keep playing well and improving.

“I worked with two good managers over there (in the Netherlands) in Dick Advocaat and Jaap Stam so I had a great schooling over there.

“It was a great education which is only going to benefit me.

“Even though I’ve not got many games I feel like I’m quite well drilled and kind of experienced in some aspects.

“I feel like I take on information well and learn and I’m learning every day from the gaffer, Pete and Hirdy.

“I’m just absorbing information and taking it into the games when I can.”

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Johnston has struck up an excellent central defensive partnership with Ricardo Santos, which had to be at its best as Wanderers ground out a 2-1 win over Shrewsbury Town last Saturday.

That made it back-to-back league wins – topped up by a mid-week EFL Trophy victory over Liverpool’s U21s – and Johnston is looking to keep the run going against a mid-table 12th-placed Wednesday side which tasted defeat for the first time in four games at home to Oxford United last weekend.

“Momentum is the biggest thing in football and if we could get a win this weekend then it would help us going into more big games this month,” said the Manchester-born centre-back, who faces a reunion with joint leaders Wigan on Saturday-week.

“I think we’ve had a tough September with some big teams there and if you look at October and it’s big teams again – so I don’t think you can ever take your foot off the gas in this division.

“You’ve got to fight every week for those three points.

“I think we’re in prime position to push on now. We’re just outside those play-off places.

“I know it’s early days but you want to be in an around there always and I think by Christmas we will be there.

“That’s the mindset we have – not just me, it’s the whole team, the manager and the backroom staff.

“As long as we’re there around Christmas we can push on towards the end of the season.”


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