DARREN Moore says his players are ready for what he admits is a demanding week for the Club following Friday’s the “sickening” loss at Middlesbrough.
Darren has been reflecting on a defeat inflicted by a solitary and controversial injury time winner and the challenge of this week which begins with tonight’s Carabao Cup second round tie against Mansfield.
He expects the League Two opponents to provide just as big a test as Luton in the previous round but is happy with the response he has seen from his players since they arrived back from the Middlesbrough setback in the early hours of Saturday.
Darren says: “There’s no doubt it was a sickening blow for us especially at the end of what I felt was an assured performance from us.
“In terms of coping with away fixtures, we have now played Forest, Norwich and Middlesbrough and there’s no doubt that it is going to be a difficult place for any team to go to. They’ve all been tough away days but I think we are making progress.
“But there were big passages when we managed the game and the ball well. They went man-to-man against us and we were up against a team which was shaped to stop us at any cost.
“We were undone by one lapse of concentration in the last few seconds. We had 30 set plays to cope with on the night - corners, free-kicks, throw-ins and we dealt resolutely with 29 of them. But playing that way is all about playing the percentages and eventually something broke for them.
“I was a bit stunned at the finish because I was thinking ‘Where did that come from?’ It was hard to take.
“But we got back into training over the weekend and I have been pleased with the reaction we have had. The players know this is the Championship season and this is what it is going to be like - ups and downs.
“I watched the Birmingham-Forest game and you would have said there was no way Birmingham should have drawn that game. They dominated for 75 minutes and then one goal changed everything. Forest have drawn every game so far but they are behind us in the table. This is the Championship and it is going to be like that all the way to the finishing line.”
“We’ve now got a big week in this game against Mansfield, then the transfer window closing until January and finally the match against Stoke. It’s a heavy week.
“The Cup tie is all we are thinking about now because Mansfield will be absolutely fired up for this and are going to be difficult opponents. Their pre-season results against Championship opposition showed their capabilities. It will be a tough game for us and we have to be absolutely right in terms of our preparation and attitude to get through.
“Whatever team I select we will have to be at our best.”
One off the other positives from the Middlesbrough visit was the return to first team action of defender Craig Dawson. There were no clues about whether he might take the opportunity to start “Daws” tonight but Darren added:
“It was terrific for the group to have Craig back in the action again on Friday. The fans do not need me to tell them how important a player he is for the Club and he will be like a new signing.
“He’s got his fitness levels back up to where we can now look forward to him figuring strongly in our plans.”