05:45 Friday 20 December 2013

Gary Rowett looks to the strength of his Burton Albion squad over Christmas period

Written byTOM SLOAN

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GARY Rowett is backing the strength in depth of his Burton Albion squad to help them through the hectic Christmas period.

The Brewers have a gruelling run of five games in two weeks, beginning with a trip to Hartlepool United tomorrow, kick-off 3pm.

Albion boss Rowett is expecting to call upon much of his squad as he looks to build on a run of just two defeats in 12 games.

“We’re going to see the true value of our squad and the players we’ve got,” he said. “This is the time of year when you can’t afford to make three of four changes and then not get anything out of games.

“I believe in them and we will hopefully see their value.”

The manager believes it could be a ‘horses for courses’ situation, with certain players suiting particular games.

He also says it takes a certain bravery as a boss to change things after a good result or two.

“The key to it will be a) we’ve got to be brave enough to change it before it needs changing and b) we’ve got to sense which players suit which games,” he said.

“Playing against Hartlepool away after a long journey is different to two home games.”

Last season, Albion won back-to-back games over Christmas before going down 3-0 at York on New Year’s Day – and Rowett is keen to avoid a repeat.

“The last game we really died a death,” he said. “We’re now trying to pre-empt it before it needs changing.

“All the players will be desperate to play.

“The great thing about our squad and team is any player coming in is desperate to do well to stay in because of how we’ll we’ve been doing.

“We’ve said it all along - it’s a squad game. Some might play 30 rather than 40 games, but they’re just as important to what we’re trying to achieve.”

Albion host Northampton Town on Boxing Day and Newport County three days later before the short journey to Mansfield on New Year’s Day.

The Hartlepool trip looks like it has come at an ideal time at the start of the hectic run.

“The fixtures are not unkind to us in terms of the travelling we’ve got to do,” said Rowett. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but that isn’t a reflection on how hard the game will be.

“We’ll look forward to it and will be positive on the back of a very good run.”

Adam McGurk should be in the reckoning to start the game after recovering from a concussion he sustained at Fleetwood.

Lee Bell (hamstring) should battle through, as will Alex MacDonald (virus).

“Adam’s fine now,” said Rowett. “It’s just the fact he hasn’t had a lot of training in the last two weeks.”

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