Dover Athletic defender Jack Parkinson says the side can’t wait for this Wednesday’s Vanarama National League playoff semi-final against Forest Green Rovers – and that the side will be looking to take a lead back to Gloucestershire for the second leg.
Speaking exclusively to the club’s Jack O’Sullivan, Parkinson said that the team were ready for the week that lies ahead. The side trained today, and the ex-Maidstone United man spoke of the high spirits within the camp: “The mood was as good as ever in training. Everybody is really looking forward to the challenge that is coming up, and we can’t wait to get going.”
Parkinson was one of several players rested for Saturday’s match – which saw Rovers win 1-0 at Crabble in the final match of the regular season – and said that the performance put on by Whites that day was positive: “You see the side that played and how strong it was – it shows the quality we have within our squad.
“Of course, you want to play every game and I’m sure the other lads would say the same, but the side out there did well.”
The 26-year-old can expect to regain his spot in the starting line-up for this Wednesday’s first leg, and says that the mantra within the squad remains exactly as it has done throughout this campaign: “We’ll be approaching these two games as we have done all season. We want to win them both and I think with the squad we have, we are capable of doing so – but only time will tell.”
Rovers also made a number of changes to their starting line-up on Saturday, with their spot in second place already guaranteed – and Parkinson, who rejected a move to League Two side Leyton Orient in the summer to sign for Whites, said he is expecting a real battle: “It’ll be a tough one. They are a big, strong side with a lot of experience and players that have played in big games. But on the other hand, we’ve got a side we feel can more than match them.”
Another player who will be looking to make a return to the backline on Saturday will be Richard Orlu. The centre-back’s three-match suspension has now been served, and Parkinson says that – if selected – Orlu will be a big boost to the side: “Rich is a big asset for us. His power and pace, as he’s shown all season, is a real handful. It will be very good to have him back involved again for us at such an important time.”
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Parkinson also paid tribute to the Paxman twins, who were both involved in the matchday squad for Saturday’s match – with striker Alfie making his debut for the club from the bench. He said: “They both look very good. They have trained with us a few times and they have ruffled a few feathers in training with how hungry and lively they are. I think that both will do well in the future.”
Whites will travel to The New Lawn on Saturday evening for the return leg, but Parkinson says that playing away from home in the second leg will be no disadvantage. He said: “The way we play, and the players we have, it doesn’t matter whether we’re at home last or away last. Our fans will be out in force for both games, so no I don’t think it will be an advantage to them at all to be at home second.
“If anything, if we can get a good result on Wednesday then it may ever put more pressure on them in front of their own fans on Saturday.
“I am sure the supporters are as excited and optimistic as we are, and that they come out in numbers once again.”