Derek McInnes targets festive cheer for Bristol City
DEREK McInnes is challenging his Bristol City players to discover a level of consistency over the hectic Christmas and New Year period.
City must negotiate five npower Championship games in 17 days, starting with tomorrow's home clash against Derby County at Ashton Gate.
And McInnes is aware that a good return during the festive season could move his team clear of relegation trouble.
But for that to happen, the Robins must summon a level of consistency not seen this season.
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The Robins have not won back-to-back games since beating Crystal Palace and Cardiff in August, but have an opportunity to emulate that feat following last Saturday's 3-2 victory at Sheffield Wednesday.
McInnes said: "Any team that shows a level of consistency in the Championship can get themselves in and among things and away from trouble.
"We are well aware of the importance of getting back-to-back victories on the board, even though it is easier said than done in the Championship. Every week is a different challenge and Saturday is going to be no different.
"This is an important time, because the games come thick and fast over the Christmas and New Year period and there are a lot of points to play for."
Playing at Ashton Gate represents an acid test for a City side that has taken just two points from the last eight games on home soil.
But the Robins demonstrated tremendous character to twice come from behind At Hillsborough last weekend and McInnes believes similar spirit and determination can deliver a much-needed win over Derby.
He said: "Hopefully, the fact we are at home will help us. I think that is important for us.
"In Derby, we are going to have a tough opponent. But they are a team we have to feel we can beat.
"We will take the positives from last week's performance – and there were a lot of good things – into the next game.
"The thing that stood out a mile for me was the character and the determination not to accept anything other than three points. Regardless of how we play, that kind of determination is going to be needed every week."
Although McInnes is keeping his cards close to his chest, tomorrow's game could see Greg Cunningham make his long-awaited comeback from injury. City's outstanding performer during the first two months of the campaign, the Irish left-back has not featured since damaging ankle ligaments at Peterborough in September.
But he has trained with the first team squad this week and will be considered for tomorrow's contest.
Asked if Cunningham might be in contention to face the Rams, McInnes said: "I think it is something we have to consider. Greg has had a good week's work.
"Whenever we put him in, unless we wait until into the New Year, we could potentially say it is too early for him. It is a matter of being fair to Greg and making sure we give him a chance to be at a level where he brings us something. Conditions have not helped him with his training this week, but he is champing at the bit anyway."