Nottingham Forest manager Mark Warburton says his side need to channel the pressure and expectation of Sunday’s match into a positive performance against Ipswich Town.
The Reds face a crunch clash against The Tractor Boys knowing that a result could secure Championship safety, and Warburton knows his side need to deliver in front of a packed-out City Ground.
He said: “It is a challenge, we are in the situation we are in and we have to respond accordingly. We have trained well this week and we look to deliver a performance, as always.
“They are professional athletes and they are not fools. They know the consequences and the significance of the game at the weekend and they know what is at stake.
The players have got to deal with it the pressure; it is part of being a professional athlete. It is not just football, there are other industries that have high-pressure situations where so much can be at stake.
“You can either see it as a positive challenge or a negative one, and our job is to make sure they see it as a positive one. We know what we have to do, we know what we are facing at home in front of our own crowd and we want them to enjoy that experience as best they can and deliver a performance.
“You have to start games fast, and if you don’t the opposition will. You want to try and get on the ball, give the players a good first touch and hopefully the game can build from there. You hope the players can get confidence from the first five or ten minutes but Ipswich will come here determined to do the opposite so let’s see how it goes.”
Warburton added that the young players in the squad have shown the ability to deal with expectation so far, and has no doubts about their capabilities on the big stage on Sunday.
He said: “Their ability to deal responsibility, as young players, has been outstanding. You look at Joe Worrall, Zach Clough, Matty Cash, Ben Brereton, Ben Osborn, Jordan Smith – they have been tremendous. You could say they have been thrown in at the deep end but if they are good enough they are old enough, and they are good enough.
“Joe Worrall made a mistake last week at QPR, he knows it and it cost us the first goal. But you look at his reaction and he never hid. He showed tremendous bravery and won the next tackle, made the next pass – he was first class. For a young player to respond so positively to a big game-changing mistake shows enormous character. I have no doubt about the young players and they will get better and better. “
There will be a large crowd at The City Ground as fans show their support for Forest in the deciding game, with the levels of commitment shown by Reds fans failing to surprise Warburton.
He said: “The fans can play a huge part. The atmosphere at The City Ground since David and I have been here has been first class. The away support has been outstanding as well and we have to recognise it and respond to it. The crowd will get nervous with the ups and downs of the game and we have to make sure there are more ups than downs.
“The supporters are passionate about the club; the players know the consequences. They recognise what they have to do with the responsibilities to themselves, their families, teammates, supporters and the club – it is everyone. It is heavy weight to bear sometimes but they have to enjoy that responsibility.”