Macclesfield Town joint-assistant manager Neil Howarth acknowledges the magnitude of the test that his side face in today’s Sky Bet League Two clash.
The Silkmen travel to the Stadium MK to face Paul Tisdale MK Dons, a team widely tipped for promotion at the end of the season following their impressive start to the campaign.
The prospect of facing an in-form Dons side has proved to be a daunting one for many other teams in the division, but Howarth believes his side are prepared to give everything they have got to get a result.
“There is something wrong with our lads if they’re not up for this,” said Howarth, “it’s a chance to go to a brilliant stadium and pit ourselves up against, I’d probably say, the best team in the league.
“If you catch them on the wrong day and they’re playing well then it’s a very difficult team to play against.
“We need to roll our sleeves up, go out there and enjoy it and work as hard as we can.”
Both Howarth and Danny Whitaker have recently highlighted the need to cut out individual errors from performances, and Howarth believes today’s encounter is the perfect opportunity for the team to display their true defensive capabilities.
“We’ve got to be competitive. We’ve got to make it difficult for teams to score against us, and we’ve not been like that.
“We have been in spells and patches but then we’ll make an error which ends up costing us.
“The time has come to really stand up, look like you want to keep a clean sheet and put your body on the line. I think somewhere like MK Dons is a place where if you don’t do that, then you’ll come away with nothing.”
Macclesfield have been boosted by the acquisition of defender Nathan Cameron on a short-term deal.
The former Coventry City and Bury player is likely to be forced straight into first-team action, and is a signing that Howarth holds in very high regard.
“We’re very, very pleased (to have him). A massive thank you to the chairman for backing us with this one.
“He’s a winner, he’s a warrior. He’s a leader on the pitch and off the pitch and he is just a real professional player who is a great defender.”
With Ben Stephens scoring his third goal in three games on Tuesday night, the forward will be hoping to continue his impressive form and whilst Howarth emphasised the Silkmen’s defensive duties, he knows what firepower Macc currently possess.
“We probably won’t see as much of the ball as we will somewhere else or a home game, but it’s about going there and enjoying it, wanting to do well and wanting to pull off a good defensive display for our supporters.
But we’re not just going there to defend. We want to get on the ball, create opportunities and I think we do have players at the moment who look like scoring.”
The 2-1 victory at home to West Bromwich Albion Under 21’s gave everyone a much-needed boost, and Howarth hopes the confidence from Tuesday can be translated into today’s fixture.
“It was a good win and it was a good competitive game.
“I said to the lads after you do sometimes forget how hard it is to win a game and to get over the line, we had to dig in.
“It was against a young West Brom side, but a very good one. It gave everybody a lift, and we’ve got to use the experience from getting that win to good effect on Saturday.”
The Silkmen have been significantly encouraged by the foray of players returning from injury, with the likes of Elliot Durrell, Callum Evans and Ryan Lloyd all getting first-team minutes under their belt.
“The treatment room is almost empty now.
“We’ve got options, and people have to show that they want to be in the team because if they’re not doing the business on the training ground or they are not doing it on matchdays then we have people to replace them, and we’ve not really had that this season yet.”
A number of supporters are expected to make the trip to MK to this afternoon, and Howarth stressed the players will give everything they can to try and ensure a happy return to SK11.
“It’s not been easy supporting us this year.
“You get no guarantees in football, but you’re a Macclesfield Town supporter whether you win or lose and they just want to see the effort, the aptitude – they just want to see the players give everything.
“We’ll try to do the right things to get a result. That’s all we can do, if we can get a result down there for the people that have been watching us then brilliant.