GARY Rowett believes Burton Albion will shake off their FA Cup hangover and rise to the challenge of continuing their League Two promotion push.
The Brewers host Torquay United at the Pirelli Stadium tomorrow, kick-off 3pm, with the boss claiming: “The season starts here!”
The visit by the Gulls starts a clear run to the end of the season in which Rowett and his men can focus solely on trying to secure a play-off place.
Albion’s third round defeat at Leicester City brought the curtain down on a run of success in cup competitions, which also saw Rowett’s men cause Capital One Cup upsets against the Foxes and Sheffield United.
But the prime objective in Rowett’s first full season as manager has always been to try to transform his side into promotion material.
And he claims his men will be “reinvigorated” by the challenge that lies ahead.
The Brewers boss said last night: “We spoke to the players after the Leicester game and said we’d had some good cup moments and highlights, but it was now time to regroup and put everything we’ve got into trying to fulfil what we set out to achieve at the start of the season.
“Primarily that is finish in highest position as a Football League club — and hopefully that will be in the top seven.
“It’s important in the first full week since the busy Christmas programme and the Leicester game that we’ve had a clear run.
“We’re back to normality now and we’ve been able to do some good work in training.
“It’s almost been like starting the season again and we’ll be trying to kick on from here to see if we can build on what we’ve achieved so far.”
Albion go into tomorrow’s game in 10th place — but only one point off the play-off places and, tantalisingly, a further three points adrift of an automatic promotion spot.
Rowett said: “The lads can now see they are 20 games away from the end of the season with everything to play for.
“I’m sure that will reinvigorate them and the challenge will be to maintain things or, better still, make an improvement.
“You never stop learning about individual players or the team as a whole, and when you get a busy spell like we had over Christmas you discover even more about what you’ve got and what you need.
“We know the lads will work hard and put in the effort because that’s never been an issue, but there are areas where we need to improve.
“I don’t think it’s a case of being poor in any one department.
“Our home record is excellent, our scoring ratio is pretty good and defensively I think we’re better than last season.
“The problem in that respect has been away from home where we’ve tended to concede goals in batches.
“We’ve had quite a few clean sheets, but we’ve also had too many games where we’ve let in threes and fours.
“I’m not making a big issue of it because the majority of teams have better home records than on the road, but we have to take on board the challenge of finding a solution.”