DEAN HOYLE says Town are up for the play-offs and promised: “We are a team with steel.”
The chairman has faith in manager Lee Clark and his squad to meet the challenges of the post-season knockout and believes the club is ready for promotion.
He accepts it won’t be easy against semi-final opponents Bournemouth and potential finalists Peterborough and MK Dons, but he has been buoyed by the 25-match unbeaten run to round-off the I campaign and feels the players are primed to deliver the prize of a place in the Championship.
“The difference this season to last is this – last season we had a team of talented individuals, this season we have a team of talented individuals who are a team,” said Hoyle.
“That team is full of desire and full of steel. It is also full of experience and full of youthful energy.
“If you put all those portions in the pot you may well come up with the right substance, and the players are really up for this, they are excited and they can’t wait to get cracking.”
Town visit Bournemouth on Saturday before playing the second leg at the Galpharm a week tomorrow. The aim, of course, is to reach the final at Old Trafford on Sunday, May 29 (3.00).
“It would mean a hell of a lot to go up this season for everyone concerned, and it would mean we could keep this squad together,” said Hoyle.
“Let’s be fair, this squad of players – with a tiny, tiny bit of tweaking – can be a top half of the Championship team.
“It’s been proved by Millwall, Leeds and Norwich and you could put any of those three against us and we would give them a game, because we have got a stronger squad than last year.
“If we don’t get promoted this year then I have always said I will do my very best to keep the squad of players together.
“That will depend on the aspirations of individuals and where they want to be, but I will ask the players to give us one more year because, in my opinion, if we are not successful we shouldn’t come out of this feeling sorry for ourselves, we should get our fingers out at the beginning of next season and prove we can make it a really good season – because we can be champions.
“Let’s hope that we don’t have to contemplate that and that we are successful this time and take this talented group of players to the Championship.
“We will be a smaller club in the Championship and every game will be like a cup final, but our players will really rise to that challenge and it will be very exciting.
“I think we are ready for a fresh challenge in the Championship – everybody included – but at the same time we don’t have any divine right to get there, the right has to be earned.
“It doesn’t matter where you finish in the table and how many points you’ve got, we are all on a level playing field now in the play-offs. We have to fight for the right to get to the final at Old Trafford and then, when you are there, you go again.
“There is a lot of hard work to do, but the way our players are they really, really want it – not just for themselves but for Lee, for the staff and for the fans.”