Evatt | It's Down To Us

Evatt applause Barnsley

Ian Evatt wants his players to seize the moment as they look to close the gap at the top of League One, writes Pete Oliver.

Wanderers go to Cambridge United on Tuesday night to play the first of their games in hand on the sides above them in the table.

Leaders Portsmouth have played three more matches than the Whites, while Derby County have played two more.

Neither are in action on Tuesday night, giving Evatt's men the chance to capitalise and potentially move back into the automatic promotion places and within two points of Portsmouth if they can win at the Abbey Stadium.

“It's down to us,” said the Wanderers’ boss. “That’s the main message, really. We've put ourselves in a really strong position. At the start of the season, I think we'd all have taken where we are now. We know what's expected and we're going to work our hardest to make that happen.

Evatt Collins Barnsley

“It's going to be a busy period and we've got 18 games to try and achieve our goal. It is still very much in our own hands, which is what we would have asked for at this stage.

“There are going to be highs, there are going to be lows, ups and downs and differences in performances and results, and we just have to make sure we take care of our own business and stay as consistent as we possibly can be.

“We know what's required and it's now down to us to try and execute that. For a long time now we've been behind in our games and had games in hand. Everyone's been talking ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ and we just need to convert them into points. The time is now.

“There are three months of the season left, 18 games that will fly by and we have to take advantage as many times as we possibly can and that starts tomorrow at Cambridge.”

Wanderers will be seeking a ninth away win of the season against the U’s, who have hit a decent run of form themselves with a four-match unbeaten run lifting Neil Harris’ side into mid-table.

Evatt has selection choices to make on the back of a productive January transfer window which brought four new arrivals and no senior departures.

George Thomason pass Cheltenham

Deadline-day buy Aaron Collins made a positive impact as a substitute as he created Zac Ashworth’s equaliser in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Barnsley and Evatt hopes the competition within his squad will pay dividends during the run-in.

“We think it is, but it's only going to be a strong group if we get the success that we want,” added the Wanderers' manager. “It's ‘we’ not ‘me’. It's not about individuals, it's not about how people feel personally. It's about the collective.

“Everyone has bought into the common goal, the common cause, and we need to go and make that happen this season. It starts tomorrow night with a really strong performance and hopefully three points.

Captain Ricardo Almeida Santos will again be missing against Cambridge with the calf strain he picked up a week ago, while Wanderers will make fitness checks on a couple of others. But defender Gethin Jones does return to the squad after returning from international duty with Australia and midfielder George Thomason is also available after completing a two-match league ban.

“Geth did a fair bit of travelling over the weekend so we will monitor him. He’s trained today and it's great to have him back,” Evatt confirmed. “It's been a great experience for him to be part of a big tournament and experience playing for Australia but he's back now and fully focused ready to try and push us towards where we want to be.

“George is a big player and he's made himself big player with his performances this season. He has probably had too many yellow cards. Some haven't been his fault but a lot have, which is something he needs to learn from. But it's great to have him back available and fresh and ready to go.”

Watch the manager's full pre-match interview on Wanderers TV HERE

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