Ian Evatt is paying no attention to the current League One table as Wanderers prepare to renew their promotion push, writes Pete Oliver.
The Whites are set to play a first league fixture since New Year’s Day at Leyton Orient on Saturday after the pitch at Brisbane Road passed an initial inspection.
Evatt’s men have played twice in the FA Cup and in the EFL Trophy since beating Burton Albion at the start of January to make it four successive league wins.
And while their lack of league action – which included last Saturday’s tragic abandonment against Cheltenham Town – has seen them move down to fourth place, Evatt’s only concern is looking to pick up points at in-form Orient to continue the journey.
“We've said all along that the only table that matters is the one at the end of April,” insisted the Wanderers’ boss, whose side has at least two games in hand on the sides above them.
“Until then it's just focusing game to game. No, we haven't played in the league but we have played and we've played pretty well in the games that we've had.
“I want us to believe in ourselves and want us to believe we can achieve our ambitions, but there's a process to that and it’s what steps we can take to ensure that happens.
“That first step comes on Saturday against Leyton Orient. We have to give them the respect they deserve. They're in good form, Richie (Wellens) is a good young coach and we're going to have to play well to get the right result.
“We have to focus on ourselves and not worry about the end picture and not worry about the future. It's worrying about the here and now and the next game is Leyton Orient and making sure we give that all of our focus.
“And if we can do that the for the remaining 22 league games, and the Bristol Street Motors Trophy games as well, I think we'll have a good end to the season.”
Orient haven’t lost a game or conceded a goal since a 3-2 defeat at Wanderers just before Christmas and climbed into the division’s top 10 thanks to a 3-0 win at leaders Portsmouth last weekend.
Wanderers suffered a first loss in seven games in mid-week when Premier League side Luton Town were given a major scare before leaving the Toughsheet Community Stadium with a 2-1 win.
Afterwards, Luton boss Rob Edwards was the latest to praise a Wanderers’ performance and the players at Evatt’s disposal. And while Edwards’ compliments were welcomed by Evatt, the Whites’ boss is taking no heed of others suggesting Wanderers have the look of promotion winners.
“We've got no right to do it. We've got to go out there and earn it,” added Evatt, whose 100th win as Wanderers' manager came against the O's before reaching 200 games in charge of the Whites against Luton. “Words are cheap. We have to go out there and put the work in and make sure we get the points we need to achieve our ambitions.
“That’s not going to be easy. No-one’s going to give it to us. We have to go out there every single day and focus on what that end goal is and to make sure we're working towards that goal. And I see a big, firm desire from the players that they want to achieve that.”