Mark Jackson knows his MK Dons side need to give the supporters something to get behind during Saturday's clash with Cambridge United at Stadium MK.
Jackson’s Dons face the U’s this weekend in a crucial Sky Bet League One fixture for two teams, who are each four points adrift of safety.
Throughout his time in charge, Jackson has emphasised the impact that fans can have on the games and while he is fully aware that it is up to the team to provide them with something to get behind, the Head Coach has called on that support once again.
“The fans play a massive part,” Jackson said in his pre-match press conference.
“In recent games we haven’t given them anything to cheer about and rightly so, they have vented their frustrations. We acknowledge that we need to put things right but, from minute on, we need them together with us.
“That’s been my mantra throughout my time here. There are going to be ups and downs throughout this process and it’s never going to be smooth sailing. It’s how you navigate through those difficult times.
“We know the position we're in and we know recent performances haven't been up to the standard we expect. We're working hard behind the scenes, with clear objectives, to try and turn this around and we're confident we can do that.
“We know the pressure that's on us, we know what's at stake. There’s no getting away from the build-up of the game, but we must control ourselves, be clear on how we want to play and how we get the players to execute that.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game of football where three points are up for grabs, and that's what we have to focus on. All we can control is what we do on the pitch and we're all driving towards getting the win on Saturday.”
Opponents Cambridge United sit below the Dons in the Sky Bet League One table due to their inferior goal difference but have shown signs of life in recent weeks. On what his side can expect on Saturday, Jackson said: “I expect a physical game.
“They're in the same boat as us. They’re a team fighting for their lives so they'll be rolling their sleeves up, they'll be aggressive, front-footed and scrapping for every ball, looking to win the game - as we have to.
“When you're in this position, there are no easy games, but ultimately we have to find a way to put our style on the opposition where we want to control it. It will be tough, it’ll be full-blooded and we have to be up for the fight.”
Jackson will be without Zak Jules after the centre-back was retrospectively punished for an incident in last weekend’s defeat to Port Vale. Jules will miss the next three matches, leaving the Dons short on numbers in defence.
“We have to deal with that because we can't change it now. We've got to find solutions and we think we’ve found a solution. We’ve been working on it all week with different personnel, but we've got an idea of what we want to do.”
Here is what else Mark Jackson had to say in his pre-match press conference…
On the two recent suspensions…
“We've had two instances of ill-discipline and it's cost us, let's not shy away from it. They know my feelings on it and we've spoken about it as a group. We have to have focus, drive and aggression but we have to control our aggression on the pitch and not retaliate.”
On Dean Lewington and Anthony Stewart…
“Dean's in training, joining in with the team. He's been out for a while, but to have his experience around the group has a different feel. We've missed those leadership qualities, and he carries those traits. He's a captain, vocal and has the influence on the pitch which I've seen this week in training.
“We'll see how each day goes with him. We assess him before and after every session, but he feels strong.
“Anthony is on the pitch with the physio, not with the group yet, but he's making steps forwards.”
MK Dons' Sky Bet League One clash with Cambridge United has been designated as Family Fun Day, meaning there will be a host of pre-match activity in the Marshall Arena and discounted tickets across all age groups - CLICK HERE for more information!
Tickets are priced from just £12 adults, £9 over-65s, £6 under-25s, £3 under-18s, £1.50 under-12s and 50p under-7s.
To book tickets CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933. Tickets will be available to buy right up until kick-off, though prices will increase by £2 on the day of the game.