Cheltenham Town are bottom of the Coca-Cola League 1 table and looking doomed to relegation, but with a number of promising young players coming through the ranks manager Martin Allen is confident that the club has a bright future.
Allen is looking at a much bigger picture than the one that shows the Robins in the drop zone, though the former Barnet, Brentford and Leicester City boss concedes that the short term prospects seem bleak despite his team's five-match unbeaten run.
"What will be will be," says Allen. "We're probably not going to get enough points to stay up, but anybody coming to watch us play over the last month or so won't have seen any signs of weakness among the players.
"Anyone who's seen us in that time would have to say the opposite, in fact. I've got about seven people injured and another five have been let go, but the players who have come in have been absolutely terrific.
"There's a lot of young boys in there and I've got 21 to 24 year-olds stepping up and taking the responsibility of playing in the first team. When the going got tough those players stood up to be counted, they've delivered, and I'm proud of them.
"You can see the spirit among them, it's magic. I'm pleased and excited and looking forward to the future. I've got a vision - I don't just manage this club from week to week, I manage it for the future and I have to have that vision.
"Yes, we are in a difficult position at the moment but that doesn't faze me, it doesn't hurt me. I've had an awful lot of hard work to do to change things around and the players have been through a lot of emotions.
"It's horrible being bottom of the League. The players have pushed themselves as hard as they can and we have to look after them, mentally as well as physically. But they've shown great character, great spirit and great attitude.
"I've been saying to them, 'express yourself, play good football and enjoy it, don't just boot it,' and the response has been fantastic. I do care about the results, but I also want my young players to get experience.
"I want them to get the experience of playing at first team level, because I think that next season I'm going to need them. I've got to put a tidy little jigsaw together. It's a challenge, but it's exciting and do you know what - I'm enjoying it!"
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