'We will be ready for 23 games in 84 days'
A SEIGE mentality will envelop Bishop's Cleeve's squad over the next 13 weeks – a spell in which they will be forced to play a staggering 24 games.
A wet autumn followed by the icy blast of winter means that with just over a third of the season to go, the Villagers still have to play more than half of their Southern League fixtures.
Starting with tomorrow's trip to Merthyr Town, Cleeve will face 23 Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West games in 84 days.
Throw in at least one tie in the Gloucestershire Senior Challenge Cup and the Villagers will barely have time to train or wash the kit between games with one coming every three-and-a-half-days.
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Ready for the challenge that awaits, Cleeve boss Alex Sykes says that he is hoping to develop something of a Blitz spirit among his squad ahead of the long forthcoming slog.
"It's going to be difficult work, but we will be ready to face it," Sykes said.
"There's no way that we can be up-tight about it – it's not going away and we've just got to get on with it.
"I said to the lads on Saturday after our game at Hungerford that however well we do over the next period of time, it is going to come from the group we've got.
"This next 13 weeks is going to test the squad massively both in the short and long term.
"We have to try and get some momentum going by claiming some results and then that will make each game thereafter that bit easier."
But, to put a fly in the already cloudy ointment, Cleeve face arguably one of their toughest tests of the season at Pennydarren Park tomorrow.
Battles between Merthyr and Sykes go way back, even as far as an epic Southern League promotion battle between the Martyrs and Sykes' Forest Green in 1998.
"It's always a massively tough place to go, Merthyr, and I don't think that I have ever had an easy game there," Sykes said.
"Whether it would be with Forest Green, Bath or Gloucester it's always tough and we know that we'll have to be on our game.
"Along with Hungerford they've probably been one of the best sides we've played this season so we know we will have to be on our game to get a result.
"But we battled well with Hungerford to hold them for 82 minutes last week and that can give us a bit of confidence going into this game."
Sykes will still be without forward Mike Tambling for the trip to Wales, with the former Gloucester City man still suffering with an ankle problem.
Reserve team graduates Ben Maguire and Nick Rhodes will be in the squad after impressing at Hungerford.