THIS is the part of the season that is called “squeaky bum time”, and certainly today’s game against Carlisle is a massive one for both clubs.

We go into the match after two successive defeats, which is not ideal, but there were enough positives in the performances against Hartlepool and Shrewsbury to feel confident.

No-one needs to tell me, the coaching staff or the players how important today’s game is.

It doesn’t need talking up, and our first job is to make sure we don’t lose.

I don’t mean that to sound negative, but there’s 21 points to fight for after today, and victory over Carlisle alone won’t make us safe.

I think frustration was the dominant feeling after the Shrewsbury match, and I can tell you that the players feel every bit as frustrated as the fans.

But we have to keep the faith.

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If we play as well as we did at Shrewsbury, where we dominated one of the top teams in the league for long periods, I am certain we will get our rewards.

We made a hatful of chances, but lacked the clinical finishing touch.

As I said, it’s the nervy part of the season, and it’s understandable that the players sometimes feel the pressure.

We’ve been away at Bisham Abbey this week, and I think the change of scenery has freshened things up and let us do some high-tempo training on a good playing surface.

(By the way, you won’t find me complaining about the state of the pitch at the Kassam. It is what it is, and it’s the same for both sides).

It doesn’t take much for the mood around the club to improve, and for confidence to return.

We haven’t done much wrong in the 15-game season that I called a few weeks ago. We just need to put the chances away when we are on top.

I am really pleased to welcome Kyle Vassell to the club, and his arrival will give us another option up front.

Kyle has League One experience with Peterborough, and he’s with us on loan until the end of the season.

I think the players have reacted well to the setbacks of the past two weeks, and no one will be able to doubt our attitude coming into today’s match.

We know there will be a lot of nervousness among our fans at the Kassam today, but all I would ask is that you get behind us, and help us deliver the goods.

Together. That’s the watch-word at squeaky bum time!


International football returned this week with England playing Lithuania in a European Championships qualifier last night.

I write this column on a Friday morning, so by the time you’re reading this we’ll know the result – here’s hoping for the right one!

Much has been made of the state of the national team, and the national game, in the build-up to these two matches.

Anyway, call me an optimist, but I really do feel that we’re making progress.

There were a number of players in the last World Cup squad who were still very much developing – the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson for example.

You look at these players now and they’ve come along way since that tournament.

Both are much more rounded players, and consistent in matches. And then of course there’s Harry Kane, the Tottenham superstar who has taken the Premier League by storm this year, and has emerged as a real prospect, one who I think could go right to the very top.

The boy has got the lot – he can score all types of goals, and create them for others too, so in my eyes, the excitement surrounding him is justified.

We need a new footballing hero in this country – Harry Kane might just be it.