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Gaffer Expects Tough Clash

18 September 2014

Oldham Athletic travel to Notts County on Saturday and manager Lee Johnson believes the game will prove a tough test for his side.

After recording a 2-2 draw midweek against Swindon Town, Latics are looking to make it six games unbeaten in all competitions on Saturday with a result against County.

The Magpies stayed up on the final day of last season after a 1-1 draw with Latics in May and Johnson believes Shaun Derry has improved his squad significantly since that game.

He said: "Shaun has done very well to take a club that was almost down last season to coming here and keeping them up so it will be a tough game. He's got a good squad now and it's his squad against my squad and we hope to have a good game. It will be a tense and tight game, like they all are in League One, but both teams will feel they will get a result from.

"They have Cassidy up front who is a threat. They have also got Ismail on loan from Wolves who is a threat and then they have experienced players in the midfield with a young back four. All of these are organised by veteran goalkeeper Roy Carroll so they have done well. They have a good blend to their squad similar to ours and that will stand them in good stead.

"It's important we pick up a win. We all feel that we have improved on last year. It's a tough league and it's really close at the moment so the next few games will determine whether we can kick on. We have just got to go into this game taking the confidence of good performance and put in a winning perfomance."

James Dayton fired a 35-yard screamer during Tuesday's game, and with Jonathan Forte close to making a return, the manager is happy with the competition for places in his squad at the moment.

"Forte is going to train today and we will assess him. We've got to take his fitness into account as he has missed a few weeks but he's a naturally fit guy so that stands him in good stead," commeted Johnson.

"Dayton took a bit of a knock against Swindon so we'll assess him as well and play the two against each other and see who comes out on top. I'm delighted with the competition in the squad at the moment and it is keeping everybody on their toes."

Rumours have been circulating around Park regarding striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake but the 33-year-old was quick to quash those but admits he is still in the market to strengthen his squad.

"I don't know where the rumours are coming from. To put the record straight, I spoke to him in the summer but he had ambititons of playing in the Championship. We invited him into the club to come and train to see his fitness levels and he hasn't taken us up on that offer. That is the end of that," stated the gaffer.

"We are still looking to improve all positions still. The sale of Clarke-Harris has left us with some budget so we want to get it right. We still need one more in that area to make competition for places fierce. If players are not producing, we want to make it known that they could be replaced, in a nice way."

Watch the full interview on Latics Player.

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