JIM Duffy says Morton’s progress in the Championship so far this season has been a good platform on which to build — but believes his side now need to step their game up for the final quarter of the campaign.
However, the Morton boss knows how important it is that the players don’t rest on their laurels, and continue to give their all as they attempt to remain in the driving seat for a play-off place with two months of the campaign remaining.
He told the Tele: “We’ve come now to the last quarter of the season and ultimately that’s where your season is defined.
“The first three quarters gives you a platform to assess your season and now it’s just, can you put the foot on the gas and press home any advantage you’ve got? That’s the challenge.
“It’s exciting times ahead for us. And it’s certainly much better than being towards the bottom end of the table fighting for your life.
“It’s a different type of responsibility because if you’re up at the top end of the table it’s better to be challenging for those types of spoils than at the bottom. That responsibility has a different intensity sometimes, and that can weigh heavily on shoulders.
“So it’s a good challenge, but one that we have to understand that there’s a degree of expectation of the longer you stay in that position the expectation increases. So the players will have to deal with that, but we’d rather have that than being at the bottom.
“So far the players have coped well with it. We’ve managed to cope really well, I think, with resources being stretched and injuries. We’ve been as badly hit with injuries as any team in the division.”
Duffy’s side have a free weekend after originally scheduled opponents Hibernian made it through to the Scottish Cup quarter-finals, where they will now face Ayr United tomorrow.
Yet the Ton boss would rather see his side facing the league leaders to maintain momentum. But he admits that the extra week will give his injured players some valuable recovery time as they gear up for the final stretch.
He said: “Like any players and management, you want to keep playing week to week. I know at times it can benefit, if you have injuries it gives players a chance to recover and I understand that part of it.
“But I’d much rather have a game on this weekend. We were due to play Hibs but they’re playing in the cup so you have to understand that too. So it’s fine, but in terms of momentum and the focus I think it’s better to play if you can.
“We will have a bit of a hectic last quarter so then it will be that every game has a wee bit extra significance as the season comes to a conclusion.
“It gives one or two players an extra week to hopefully get a bit more up to speed, guys like Jamie Lindsay and Michael Doyle, who missed the last couple of games, will be fit for the next games and that’s important. Gary Oliver won’t be far away as well, so from that perspective it can help us.
“The last quarter of the season you want to have all of your players available if you can.
“We’ll have these guys available for the run-in and that’s important because we’ll have midweek games and every game will be important — we want as many options as we can have.
“Having good players gives you those options and hopefully as the season unfolds they’ll be even more important.
“Every game is so tough, every single team has something to play for. No team can sit there mid-table and think ‘well we’ve got nothing to play for’ because other teams around you have motivation.
“The next eight or nine games are extremely important for us, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”