Michael Appleton was pleased with his side’s effort on New Year’s Day despite a disappointing loss to Oxford United at The Valley.
“I can’t ask anymore from the players,” he told local media after the game. “They gave me everything they could.”
“All we can do as a group is just keep putting ourselves in a position where we can affect [the game] and we can do something about it.”
Despite some frustrating moments in the final minutes of recent matches, the boss is taking some heart from the fact that every game is still in the balance at the end. “If you roll over and lose games three or four nil, there’s not a lot you can do in those final moments anyway,” he said.
“But when you’re consistently in those moments with the group that we’ve got at the minute, for me they deserve praise because they’re putting themselves in those moments against decent sides,” he continued.
“If you keep putting yourself in that position, then eventually you’ll get rewarded.”
While the gaffer did not want to make excuses, it is difficult to ignore the number and calibre of the players missing through injury.
“We’ve got nine injuries and probably six or seven of those are first-team regulars,” he explained. “In the first seven or eight games we were here for we never lost a game, and we looked like we were going to roll teams over three or four nil.”
With the likes of Miles Leaburn still out for a long time, Appleton is keen to add to his squad now that the January transfer window has opened.
“I don’t think we’re in a position where it’s about bringing in players to be squad players. At the end of the day they have to come in and try and be starters for us. That’s why it’s so important to get the right ones,” he said.
The boss is now looking ahead to Saturday’s trip to Port Vale, where he will look to continue a run of decent performances on the road, even if the results have not always been there to back those performances up.
“Apart from possibly Leyton Orient… away from home some of the performances have been pretty good of late,” he said.
“If we can pick ourselves up, which we will – there’s enough spirit in that group and in that dressing room, I’ve seen it after the game there – then we’re more than capable of going to Port Vale and winning.”