Sean McConville knows he needs to hit top form this season, starting with what he bills as Saturday’s ‘massive’ game against Bolton Wanderers at the Wham Stadium.
The winger says the season has been stop-start for him so far and he was dropped to the bench for last Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Rotherham, unusual for the 30-year-old who has been a regular since he returned to the club in 2015.
Bolton have won three League One games on the bounce under Keith Hill while the Reds have not won in four EFL games – and have also not scored in any of them – and McConville knows they need to turn their form around.
“I was subbed at half-time against Crewe in the FA Cup and there are no excuses, we weren’t good enough on the day and the gaffer said it could have been any one of the 11 and unfortunately it was me.
“It’s how you react to set backs like that, I took my medicine and I worked hard in training the following week.
“I knew the day before I wasn’t starting at Rotherham, the gaffer isn’t one to spring it on you, he will sit you down and give you the reasons why.
“There is no fall out, it is what it is. Maybe when I was younger I would have took the decision a bit differently but I am more experienced. I know what I have got to do - I have got to work harder in training and get my performance levels better on the field.
“I came on at half-time at Rotherham and I felt I affected the game so hopefully I have done enough in the second half there to get my performance levels back up to where they should be.
“It has been a stop-start season for me with injuries, niggles and suspensions and I don’t feel like I have got myself going yet but a good second half performance at Rotherham will hopefully kick start that.
“That’s not just myself, that’s the team - we are not performing anywhere near good enough whether it’s the 11 that start or the subs that come on.
“At the minute we are a bit away and we need to get back to being hard to beat and getting a few results on the board.”
Stanley are in 19th place in the league while Bolton are 23rd but, after starting with a 12 point deduction, moved into positive figures last weekend and it's expected to be almost a full house at the Wham Stadium.
“Saturday’s game is massive, it’s huge,” continued McConville, who has chalked up 300 appearances for the Reds. “The gaffer and Jimmy (Bell) built it straight up after the Rotherham game.
“We had a good second half performance at Rotherham and felt we were unlucky not to get anything out of the game but this Bolton game is going to be pivotal to our season, we need to win that game.
“It’s tough, they have now got a good side, they must be in the top three in the form table. They have got two very good men in charge in Keith Hill and Dave Flitcroft who like to play football the right way and get the best out of players. They are a perfect fit for Bolton.
“They now have a full strength side, it’s not the youth team anymore, and what we have to do is come up with a formula to beat a good side in Bolton like we did against Ipswich a few weeks back.”
After more than six hours without a league goal, McConville also knows it would be a perfect time for him to get off the mark in the league for the season.
“The gaffer might be dusting his boots off as we need a goal from somewhere and he thinks he can still do a job as he shows us in training!
“We've got to strive to score a goal, it’s not through a lack of trying, it’s quality. We are missing the target so many times.
“We had 15 or 16 shots on Saturday and hit the target once which is nowhere near good enough and we need to start hitting the target and we need to make the goalkeeper work.
“The focus on training will be on Bolton but also on ourselves going forward and scoring goals.
“If you don’t score goals, you’re going to get relegated so we need to put the ball in the net, starting Saturday.”