Gills skipper to use previous experiences to help others in final few games
Gills skipper Adam Barrett says every member of the squad cannot afford to rest on their laurels and assume success will come to them as there are still seven big games to play.
Barrett, 33, has been a regular in the heart of defence all season and has been in this position before while playing for Southend, but says the squad must focus accordingly and not get carried away at being top of the division.
He said: “We’ve had a cushion most of the season to be honest, we’ve had a points gap and then it’s closed a bit which you’re going to get, but we’ve been at the top for so long. You can almost touch promotion and we know it’s there but the lads are just desperate to get over the finishing line.
“We have worked extremely hard this year – the staff and everyone involved at the football club.
“We just want to make sure we finish the job, we haven’t done it yet. There are seven games to go and anything can happen so we need to keep preparing the right way and try and stay relaxed.
“It’s always a nervy end to the season, there are tams fighting for their lives and teams vying for the play-offs and the top three spots and that is across all the leagues.
“It’s whoever keeps their nerve and holds their heads who will be the ones that come out on top. So far we have done that – we have had an extremely difficult week with the travelling and some tough away places, and we have come through that.
“We have extended the lead at the top but there are some difficult games in front.
“Nerves are always a good thing, it gives you a bit of an edge and fire in the belly but it’s my role, along with the other senior lads, to ensure the youngsters relax on the pitch and keep doing what we are doing.
“We are within touching distance of it but we need to stay calm, do nothing stupid and just keep doing our jobs.
“It can help because I’ve been through it a few times so I know what to expect and know the closer it gets the more the pressure builds so as you get older you deal with that better.
“The difference is that we’ve been top for so long and I think the expectations have been there for so long. I’ve won League One with Southend before and we were always in the top group but never sitting on top for as long as we have so that’s feels a little bit different.
“I can use the experience of what I’ve had before and it’s about keeping your nerve and keeping relaxed. I know everyone is expecting us to do it but we have seven tough games coming up.
“If we can get a few wins sooner rather than later then hopefully the promotion will come quicker.
“I’m sure a bit of talk goes round, the lads will sit there and the odd comments will come up but if you start looking too far ahead it will come back to bite you and you don’t want to look at Easter Monday because we have games in between that.
“If you’re focussing on a game which is two weeks away then you will come a cropper with the team you play next.”
To read Martin's pre-match press conference click here.