AFC Sudbury manager David Batch has said getting into the play-offs during his first season in charge at King’s Marsh would be a ‘bonus’.
The former Cambridge United player might be accused of partaking in the Jose Mourinho school of mind-games, but his actions may show it is an honest-held belief.
With ninth-placed AFC moving to within five points of the top five after a hard-fought 0-0 draw with third-placed Harlow Town on Tuesday, the Yellows face a defining week of their cup and league ambitions.
Tonight they travel to struggling division rivals Ware’s Wodson Park (7.45pm) for their Robert Dyas Ryman League Cup semi-final, with the winners set to face Premier Divison outfit Maidstone United.
Two away games at top-five sides Harlow Town (3pm) and Witham Town (7.45pm) on Saturday and Tuesday then follow.
But amid the hectic run, Batch’s plans for next season are already taking shape, with captain Sam Clarke and impressive centre-back Ryan Henshaw the first two players to have signed on for the 2014/15 campaign, while youngsters who have been recently bought in will be given the rest of the season to acclimatise in the club’s Thurlow Nunn League reserve side, before being considered for the first-team squad next season.
Asked if they would be ahead of schedule if they made the play-offs this season, he replied: “I think so. There has been a lot of changes.
“The good thing is that already the squad is starting to take shape for next season as well.”
He added: “If we get in the play-offs this year, great, it is a bonus, but we have 42 points to play for.
Despite the heavy run of games, Batch will not be prioritising league over cup or vice-versa.
“The semi-final is a must-win, because if you don’t you’re out and the games at Harlow and Witham again are big games — you cannot go in there and play weakened sides.
“We will have to play what we have got and that will be our strongest side.”
With tonight a rescheduled game, Greg Crane, Payton Swatman and Matt Daniels are all unavailable, while Steve Spriggs (knee) misses out.
Batch believes frontman Ollie Hughes, who sustained a broken thumb on Saturday, will play again this season.