By Tony Leighton
Swindon Town manager Paolo Di Canio is prepared to work round the clock in pursuit of a second successive promotion - but the Italian boss reckons that the Robins will not be able to complete their rise to the npower Championship until next season.
When Di Canio took over at the County Ground at the start of the 2011/12 campaign, Swindon were at a low ebb, relegated to The Football League's basement division after finishing bottom of League 1 just 12 months after reaching the Play-Off Final.
But after a slow start to his first job in management, the former Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham United striker guided his team to promotion as champions.
And now the Robins, sixth in the npower League 1 table after bouncing back from a spell of poor results that saw them drop out of the Play-Off places and the FA Cup, seem capable of flying up to the Championship for what would be the first time in 14 seasons.
With injuries affecting his playing squad, however, Di Canio is urging caution despite the lifting of a transfer embargo that he says has been restricting his side's progress.
"We have to be realistic," says Di Canio. "I will work 24 hours per day to maintain our position, but if we are to keep this position there will have to be a monumental effort at the County Ground by the players and the technical staff.
"Our season is a season that we have to establish our name in League 1, put the foundations for the plan for next season and try to go up, because the plan from the day I arrived was three years to reach Championship level.
"We are in a good position, doing a good job to put the base down for the future, but we have eight injuries and five of those are crucial players like Tommy Miller and Alan Navarro, players with high pedigree.
"If we were not under [transfer] embargo for two months with a big injury crisis I would have brought in two, three or four players on loan.
"This is what happened last year in League 2 - we started to have bad results, we made some mistakes, but we covered the mistakes by bringing in [on loan] two, three young players with talent and that gave me a chance to have options..
"This year we lost a few points and also [through injuries] lost a few players, but I couldn't rotate my players during the embargo."
With loan targets in mind, Di Canio is happy to have had the embargo lifted and just as happy to see his team back in form after a blip that not only saw them drop points but also slide out of the FA Cup in a home tie against non-league Macclesfield Town.
"Parts of the Macclesfield game drove me crazy" said the manager. "I was mad for days, but the answer from the players was fantastic.
"In our last two matches they have confirmed that they are good professionals. They have done very well in terms of determination, focus and spirit. For this I am very happy - we can look forward to the future in a positive way."
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