Aussie defender relishing Lincoln challenge
Saturday sees the start of the season and new Cheltenham Town skipper Aaron Downes is excited for competitive football to be back: "Yeah i can't wait. It's been 5, nearly 6 weeks of hard graft really, building ourselves up for this first game."
That first game is away at Lincoln, and Downes recognises its importance: "The first game is always important and it's a good reader I suppose to see where we are at and pit ourselves against a team who should do well in this league. Looking forward to it and it should be a good test for us. But let's not get carried away it's not all about one game. There's a big season ahead and it might take time."
Even though he's not placing too much emphasis on just one game, the new captain does understand the need for a good start to the season in general, " It's good to get off to a good start and the manager said to us, if we're not there or there about 10 games in then it's going to be tough to claw it back.
"We're a team that people are expecting to do well, you look at Barnet last year who did go up, they had a great start. I think a good start can set you up for the season and give you confidence throughout the squad and give a positive mentality throught the whole club."
And he sees the best way to have a positive start is to look to have a positive mindset, "We can't go to Lincoln thinking we can't lose, i think then you're bound to start off in a negative minsdset. We've got to go there with the attitude that we want to win, we can win, that's our goal. We need to go there with an attack minded philosophy which we've done throughout most of pre-season."
The australian was manager Gary Johnson's first new signing back in May, unaware then that 15 more would follow him through the door. He's impressed with the business done during the off-season, especially at the blend of players brought in, "I've never had it where there's been a totally new squad like we've had here. As far as the starting XI it looks like there's going to be 11 brand new members of the squad that will start the game. That's quite remarkable really. But it's been really good, it's been refreshing. It's always nice to meet and train with new people. It's been fun and enjoyable. There's been a lot of hard work that's been put in. It's also been nice to see the work we've put in on the training ground come out in games.
"The manager's done a good job. There's a nice mix of youth and expereince and I think you need that to be successful. It has the older boys who can lead from experience and pass their wealth on the up and coming lads who have a bright future ahead and don't have that fear factor. Which in turn can rub off on the experienced players."
With several younger players, like Jack Munns, preparing to make their professional debuts on Satruday, Downes was clear about his role within the squad in trying to help them, "It is important that the younger players can look around the dressing room and see players like me and Storz (Kyle Storer), who are in their corner battling. That can take the pressure off them to go and express themselves and stamp their authority on the game this Saturday and this season.
"I think it could be a big year for a few on the young lads. A few of them are playing a bit lower than what they should be and why they're here is for numerous reasons but I think it could be a big year for a few of them. So if we can help them and make this season as stress free as possible for them which will although them express themselves positively on the team and the league."
Downes has officially been named as captain, with Kyle Storer vice captain.
He said: "Having the armband is a pleasure and an honour and something that I will hopefully use to inspire me to have a good game. I've been in the role numerous times. I've been the vice captain at Torquay for the last couple of years and I was made a captain at Chesterfield when I was quite young so I am very comfortable."
Captain Downes and the rest of the squad get underway against Lincoln tomorrow, read the full match preview here