Chris Wilder's notes from today's matchday magazine
Welcome back for our final game of 2013. We have had a very strong first half of the season and our points tally means that we are well set to push on into the second half of the season. I am told that we are in the highest league position that the club has been in for a decade and we are gaining a lot of plaudits on and off the pitch, so we are on the front foot throughout the club.
We know we are up against strong competition but having made a lot of changes in personnel, and in attitude, desire and ability we have to be pleased with the way things have gone. That is down to hard work and character and as we end 2013 I would like to thank the staff at the training ground and in the office and of course the players for their efforts throughout the year, and from the very first day I arrived really. It is a team effort in every way.
We get the chance to end the year with another positive performance against a Scunthorpe side who are right up there in and amongst it after the first half of the season. Russ has had a decent set of results and I always thought that Scunthorpe would do well this season. They were not in freefall when they came down and have regrouped and come back strongly.
The Christmas period is a very busy one for everyone and after two tough games against York and Plymouth we will make sure that any little knocks and scrapes are settled and right before we pick the side today.
Whoever plays will wear the shirt with pride, and that pride in the club runs deep. Just before Christmas the youth team had a great 3-1 win down at Swansea, a brilliant result which Chrissy Allen and his boys should take great heart from. To travel away to a Premier League side, come back after losing your keeper and going a goal down, and to get a home draw against Cardiff is all very encouraging for the future. Those lads train alongside us at the training ground and there are some very talented players coming through in all the age groups.
The future looks bright, while in the shorter term we have players such as Jon Meades, Andy Whing and Alfie Potter to come back into the squad later in the season after long-term injuries. All three are still a long way off at the moment but what a boost it would be to have them back for the crucial last few weeks of the season. Those last ten games or so are when things are won and lost but if we are to achieve anything then we need to keep the pedal down and keep picking up results right now. The table is still incredibly tight but we are in contention and have given ourselves a chance.
I would like to end my notes for the year by thanking the fans for your fantastic support, home and away. You make a massive difference and have been unbelievable this season. We hope to give you one more reason to raise your voices, and perhaps raise your glass, this afternoon.
Enjoy the game.