Gary Johnson says Cheltenham Town’s players must “grow up quickly” if they are to pull off a great escape act this season.
The new manager’s first two matches in charge ended in 1-0 defeats by York City and Stevenage over the Easter Weekend.
The Robins travel to automatic promotion chasing Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday three points adrift of the safety line.
Former Yeovil Town and Bristol City boss Johnson had a long chat with his players in the dressing room after Monday’s narrow reverse at the hands of Stevenage.
“There were a few home truths because I felt some could have done a bit more and I have to be honest with them,” Johnson said.
“Some of them don’t have the fitness or mental toughness to get on the ball in our situation.
“It’s going to be about picking the right team now and individually I have gone round and told them their strengths and weaknesses and they have to grow up very quickly now.
“The message is to grow up and be more professional. If you are going to shoot you have to believe you are going to score, not just flash at it.
“I thought we were quite brave, which you have to be against Stevenage to win the aerial battles and the second balls, but they were cleverer than us.”
Johnson said that nobody at the club can afford to throw in the towel, with 15 points still to play for and only three points to make up.
“They have a manager who won’t give up and I will try to be a 12th man through the game,” he said.
“There are not many leaders in there and it’s probably got to come from the line and hopefully one or two of them will step up.
“They need a result to get that confidence back in themselves and we are not a millions miles away, but it’s getting that goal at the right time. I won’t allow anyone to give up.”
Cheltenham are likely to be without Will Packwood on Saturday after the Birmingham City loan defender hobbled off in the second half with a hamstring injury.
“Will is a big miss for us, but other people now have to step up to the plate and if they do, we are still in it,” Johnson said.
“It’s not mathematically impossible for us to get out of trouble.”