Trevor Positive

Trevor Brooking hopes that the players will be fit and raring to go on Saturday after the luxury of two weeks without a game which the trip to Watford will bring to an end.

"Everyone has hopefully recharged their batteries a little bit because it is quite a treadmill, especially when you haven't got the depth of squad you would like - it can get pretty draining," he says.

"Alan has spent a little bit more time with them on the training pitch to get to know them better and work on a few things.

"Now there is a very important week away to Watford and Wimbledon and at home to Sunderland.

"Wimbledon is a catch-up fixture in hand which you have to try and make the most of, and Sunderland will be one of toughest of the season because they are playing exceptionally well and are one of the form teams generally.

"I think Alan has settled in fine now; I like him and get on very well with him and I do believe he will be a really good manager for us.

"He is getting this opportunity to work with the lads, which most managers do in the close season building up to the start.

"Here we are with the third manager of the season so it is important for him to work with the lads a while, and I think they have all responded well.

"Everyone is looking forward now to these couple of months leading up to the turn of the year with some big games coming up such as the likes of Wigan, Sunderland, West Brom away, Ipswich, Nottingham Forest...all games that to win, or not lose, means we pick up or don't lose ground with those above us.

"I think if we can emerge going in to the new year still in the top half a dozen then by then, with the likes of Rufus and Stevie Lomas back, we might go on a little run of a few wins that will make all the difference.

"I am still quietly confident we will be there for the run-in."

Trevor knows, however, that with Jermain Defoe's suspension kicking in and Neil Mellor still out injured, attacking variations are thin on the ground.

"The options are not too forthcoming so Brian Deane's arrival was timely; I think Alan wanted, and I felt myself, that there were times during games when it would be useful to have the likes of someone like him come on for half an hour and give you that aerial physical challenge.

"The important thing is to try and not then get sucked in to hitting too many longer balls which perhaps in the last half hour at Coventry we did whereas for an hour we did well up there, knocking in some deep balls.

"Then we started to hang them up there and they had a big central defender, Konjic, who was about six foot four, and said 'thank you very much'.

"So you have got to vary the supply but I think Brian can provide half of a decent pairing.

"When I saw the first half at Coventry we were knocking in a lot of balls to feet and he was very aware with people joining in from midfield.

"Obviously he is in his mid-30s so he has to pace himself a bit."

The search for reinforcements goes on, and Trevor adds:

"Injuries have kicked in a little bit so you do need cover; everyone plays their part and there is still the option to try and find someone wide right.

"We haven't got anyone who goes outside people with pace down that right side - and particularly not if we have got Tomas as a right back because he is more of a defensive right back than an overlapping one.

"Matthew has done very well for us on the left but we have not had an outlet down the right, and I still think Alan is still probably ferreting away trying to find somebody.

"But it takes time and hopefully one or two additions will give him the option to try different things and with the injuries that have turned up it will be important to add that little bit of depth to the squad."

Mustapha Hadji turned down a move to West Ham from Aston Villa on loan and Trevor adds:

"He was a player we had looked at a couple of times and each time it had not quite worked out; it was surprising because reserve team football is not the same as first team football where you get your match sharpness.

"Perhaps he is waiting for the shop window in January to see if anything happens in that spell but it would have been useful even just spending a month to show what he can do."

Trevor acknowledges that some fans might have expected things to be a bit easier in the first division and he adds:

"I think some did, but when you think of the personnel change in the squad - not just the four players sold but nine or 10 out of contract - it is a major changeover and players do take time to settle in.

"It is a period that we could have stumbled in but all three relegation sides are all in that little top cluster, can be reasonably satisfied that they have got the trauma of last summer out of the way, and look at least as if they are going to sustain a challenge - and it is up to us now to make sure we do.

"At present, to be fair, no one has been quite good enough to get away from the rest of the field.

"We have just got to make sure that we improve and become one of those sides that gets a little run of wins as opposed to the draws we have had a lot of before the West Brom defeat."

The opposite end of the spectrum from over-confidence is, of course, suffering a hangover from relegation and Trevor acknowledges:

"It is always a danger; look at when everyone was at their lowest ebb during the summer - everyone thought 'we haven't got a squad and how are we going to do any good here.'

"There were those who thought we would trundle straight through but that was more during the summer months and by the time they saw the people that had gone they thought 'this is going to be tough.'

"I think we have gradually turned it round a little bit; Matthew Etherington has done very well for us, David Connolly is coming back, Hayden Mullins will turn out to be a good signing, Michael Carrick is getting better each week, and I think Jermain will enjoy feeding off Brian Deane when he comes back.

"Gradually everything is progressing and I think we have the best keeper in the league with Jamo who has been very consistent.

"So I think there are a lot of positives and I still think we will give a good account of ourselves come the spring."