Energy boost given to Scunthorpe United by loanees says Mark Duffy
IT WOULD be easy to assume it's all doom and gloom at the bottom as Scunthorpe United attempt to stave off relegation.
The Iron however, have always insisted morale remains high, and with young loanees James Alabi and Eirik Holmen Johansen added to the squad Mark Duffy says there is a whole new 'energy' around Glanford Park.
Manchester City keeper Johansen made his debut in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Coventry City, while Alabi has been restricted to coming off the bench since arriving from Stoke City.
If their influence on the pitch matches the impression they have made off it though, United should soon see the benefits.
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"They've settled in great," said Duffy.
"James has been great. He's staying with me so we hang around with each other quite a lot while we're here.
"He's done well when he's come on and managed to get himself a goal as well.
"He's still only young. He's 18 and quite quiet.
"He doesn't really speak that much, but when you get to know him a little bit more he opens up to you.
"He's quite funny as well and cracks a joke. He's just a little bit shy.
"It's his first loan out to a league club and is a really good experience for him.
"Hopefully it will develop him a lot more and he can go back to Stoke a lot better for it.
"And from what I've seen of the keeper, he's unbelievable.
"Some of the saves he makes in training are just outrageous.
"I hope he takes that into the games because he could have a big effect on the end of the season.
"They bring an energy around the place.
"It's good. You've got to have that because they're the future.
"You need them around and they need to be learning off the older players, what they do before training and after training, how to prepare before a game.
"It's just a cycle really. They'll be learning off everyone and hopefully James will."
The Iron winger admits though, given their tenuous position in the table, a few nerves have started to creep into his team's play of late.
Just two points above the bottom four and having lost four of their last five ahead of Saturday's trip to Notts County, United must also be wary of the two games Oldham Athletic, just below them, have in hand.
Duffy says battles in the mind will be as important as those on the pitch in the final run-in.
A few nerves, he concedes, crept into Scunthorpe's game against the Sky Blues when they let an early lead slip.
"Different players manage it differently," the 26-year-old explained.
"I don't really think about it because you've got that many things going through your head in a game.
"I don't really have a second to go, 'oh, I'm feeling a little bit nervous right now'.
"It's only when the game stops and you have a little quick look round, that's the only time when you really start to hear the crowd, so personally I don't really get that nervous.
"I'm very relaxed when I'm in the tunnel before a game.
"Different people deal with it differently.
"Some of the lads will be sitting there and will have a drink and go through a routine, whereas I just sit down and chill out.
"I like to think about who I'm playing against and what their weaknesses are and how I can get at them."
Nevertheless, Duffy remains confident the Iron can turn around their recent poor form.
Pointing to a profitable February when Brian Laws' men won three successive home games, he believes there is still plenty of time to improve their fortunes.
"It's not good form, but it can easily change round, we showed that a few weeks ago when we won a few games at home on the spin," he said.
"It can turn around quite quickly, it's just down to a little bit of luck and taking our chances.
"We're still out of the relegation zone even though Oldham have got two games in hand. They've got to win those games.
"It's not as if there's two or three games left. There are nine games left and I think we're quite capable of picking up three, four or five wins out of that.
"We've got some tough games towards the end of the season but I know for a fact all those teams will be looking at us and going, 'we don't really want to play them' because they know if they get us on a good day we can play the football to match anyone in the division."