JON MCCARTHY says it’s vital for Chester to claim three points this weekend in order to avoid ‘early season pressure’.
The Blues host newly-promoted Halifax Town tomorrow (3pm) having belatedly got their campaign underway on Tuesday night with an entertaining 1-1 draw with AFC Fylde.
McCarthy, whose side finished last season 19th in the National League after an alarming slump in form, recognises the need to register an early win to lift any doubts over his new-look team’s capabilities at the Swansway Chester Stadium.
“Halifax have bounced back and they are dangerous because of that, a real threat,” said McCarthy, who confirmed Nyal Bell is doubtful for tomorrow’s clash with a facial injury sustained against Fylde.
“It’s a big game for both teams, where both teams are expected to be in that bottom bit of the table and it’s a home game for us, so it becomes really important, there’s no doubt about that.
“If we get it right, we’re where we want to be. If we get it wrong, then you’re already into some kind of pressure this early into the season. I know how it works.
“Every game we’ll be on the front foot, it’s part of our make-up and identity. We’ll try to wear them down and then you might see some more indirect stuff from us.
“There will never be a case we’re not on the front foot, at this point in the season we should be confident enough after Tuesday night to go at them from the off.
“They have good wide players, a big targetman and they’ve played 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 so far and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they’ll do Saturday.
“They are more straight-forward than Fylde in terms of how we have to adapt but it doesn’t mean they are any less of a team.
“It’s straight-forward for us though in terms of our shape and set-up and it means I can work on their players a bit more individually and enforcing our game on them.”
Goalkeeper Conor Mitchell was handed his Blues debut on Tuesday night, a matter of hours after joining on-loan from Burnley and McCarthy stressed how important it was to bring in a quality stopper to challenge Alex Lynch for the number one jersey.
“We’ve been working really hard when it comes to the goalkeepers, I think that does show we spend your money well here,” he added.
“That shows with the squad, we’re light in some areas but I think we’ve done as well as we possibly could on the budget. We’ve worked, worked, worked right up until the last couple of hours but we got him in and that’s who we wanted.
“It’s evident why we’ve done that. We’ve got two good keepers, Lynchy doesn’t disappear out of the frame, he knows that and what I think of him and how we found him last year. But you do have to have competition.”
One area where McCarthy accepts the Blues are light on numbers is defence, with very little cover for regular back-four Andy Halls, Ryan Astles, skipper John McCombe and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.
However, with the budget spent up for the time being, McCarthy could look to the likes of Stoke and West Brom’s under 23 squads to add defensive back-up if any injuries are sustained.
“I think we’re done now, the board have backed us but financially at the moment it’s a no, to protect this club and there’s no arguments there from my part,” he added.
“There’s nothing more available and it might be a case of reacting when the Premier League window closes, or from a Championship club.
“At the moment they’re not going to send us someone of the quality we would want if they’re not going to play.
“We’ve seen Stoke, West Brom, Derby, Burnley and Crewe and we’ll be around and watching their development games and if we need something in longer term then we’ll go to one of those clubs and explain they will play. I think that’s a sensible solution.”
See full story in the Chester Leader