We must show more resilience with our defending, says Bristol City boss
BRISTOL City boss Derek McInnes is urging his players to defend with more resilience against Millwall at Ashton Gate tonight.
Yet to keep a clean sheet in the npower Championship this season, the Robins have shipped 16 goals in eight games. Only Sheffield Wednesday, Peterborough and Millwall have conceded more and McInnes knows his team must tighten up at the back if City's new-found attacking potential is to be translated into a good haul of points.
City again demonstrated their goalscoring prowess against Leeds United on Saturday, only to gift their opponents three soft goals and end up losing 3-2.
McInnes, pictured, said: "There was a lot of Saturday's performance to be pleased about, but all the positive aspects were overshadowed by the mistakes.
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"We have to limit those mistakes and show more resilience with our defending. If we can do that, and make sure we are strong at the back when asked questions, then we can get ourselves a foothold in the game, get the ball moving the way we want it and cause Millwall a lot of problems.
"It is not a balance (between attacking and defending), it is just a case of doing more as a team to defend our box. I don't think we have conceded too many goals from being too open and we are not conceding because we are being gung-ho or throwing caution to the wind.
"For me, we have to be more determined in one-on-one situations and more determined to keep the ball out of our box. And when the ball does go into the box, we have to make sure we impose ourselves on the situation with proper defending.
"I still want us to carry a goal threat, but, at the same time, I don't want us to be killing ourselves by giving away cheap goals."
Injuries are limiting the manager's options in defence and, given that left-backs Greg Cunningham, George Elokobi and Joe Bryan are all sidelined, McInnes may be forced to start with the back four that finished against Leeds.
That will mean Richard Foster switching to the left-side of defence and Louis Carey coming into the starting line-up to cover for him at right-back.
Alternatively, McInnes could recall Mark Wilson to play at right-back, redeploy Foster at left-back and move Carey into central defence to partner Liam Fontaine in an attempt to combat the physical presence of Lions forwards Andy Keogh and Chris Wood.
McInnes is appealing to the fans, some of whom have aimed criticism at the defence, to get behind his team.
He said: "No matter what the back four is, I think it is important there is no hang-up from the crowd. There should be no finger pointing and we need them to really get behind people. We know we can do better in certain situations, but they have not become bad players overnight.
"I want the fans to get behind them, because that is the only way we will work our way through this.
"The best way to get confidence in our defending is by keeping clean sheets and winning games and the fans can play a part in that."
McInnes will check on Marvin Elliott's troublesome groin before naming his starting line-up, but the game will almost certainly come too soon for Cole Skuse, who is recovering from an ankle injury sustained at Peterborough two weeks ago.