Players have earned time to recharge batteries, says Bristol Rovers boss John Ward
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward believes his squad have earned the mini-break they are to be offered over the next few days after putting a five-point gap between themselves and the League Two relegation zone.
Ward told his players to go home and rest up for two days after training this morning ahead of a four-week period during which his side will play nine games.
"The players deserve a couple of days to recharge their batteries," Ward said. "They all put a real shift in to win the game on Saturday as it was the third one in a very tough week.
"They had to really dig in at times so it was a strong effort from the players and now they need a breather. Some of the boys were playing from memory in the last 15 minutes and it is important to manage them in the right way.
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"I want them to switch off for the next couple of days and then I expect them to return on Thursday mentally and physically recharged ahead of another busy period when we will play a lot of games in a short space of time.
"There has been a hell of a lot of effort put in to winning games and we have to do the right things that gives the players the opportunity to maintain that level of work-rate over the remainder of the season."
Rovers, meanwhile, face a tricky task if they are to extend their recent unbeaten run to six games when a rejuvenated Wycombe Wanderers side arrive at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Gareth Ainsworth's side claimed a 4-0 victory over York City on Saturday to take their own recent unbeaten run to five games and Ward said: "They are five points off the play-off positions and are playing very strongly.
"We had a scout at their game on Saturday and he was very complimentary. I also saw the game on TV when they beat Gillingham recently and I will go and watch their game against Bradford on Tuesday night.
"I think some of the results around the league in general over the last few weeks have proved there are no easy games.
We've proved that over the last couple of months by winning games even when we were at the bottom of the table.
"Other teams around the bottom, the likes of Aldershot and Accrington, have also picked up in recent weeks so we know that plenty of hard work still lies ahead of us.
"At the moment things are really positive for us and we have a bit of breathing space, but we all know that a couple of defeats and people will very quickly start to question your decisions. We are in a good mood at the moment, but we have to work hard to try and maintain that."
Ward, meanwhile, once again praised lone striker Ryan Brunt for the contribution he made during Saturday's 2-0 win at Oxford United.
"Ryan is one of the reasons I am giving the players a couple of days off," said Ward. "He covered so much ground on Saturday and did everything we asked of him. He is one of a number of unsung heroes we have had in recent weeks – although I know they won't like being called that.
"A big thing for me has been the continuity in selection of the back four and goalkeeper. They have been very solid and strong throughout and the sort of consistency they have shown is something you don't often see in League One or League Two. That has given us the base to go on and win games."