Midfielder Michael Doughty spoke in depth to us prior to Saturday's game against Carlisle...
One of Stevenage’s key men this year has been on-loan QPR midfielder, Michael Doughty. Still only 21 years old and playing in League 1 for the first time in his career, he's shown exceptional ability and adaptability in order to be a regular name on Graham Westley’s team sheets this season.
We caught up with him on Thursday morning and asked him about how the recent ascent up the table has come about.
“In the last few games we’ve had a level of consistency that we haven’t shown before. There have been parts of our performances in the past which have been strong but in the last few games we’ve brought a lot of those things together and showed them on a consistent basis.
“We all knew it was within us, it was just a case of having the self-belief, confidence and making sure we do the basics well. In previous games this season individual mistakes have cost us and I think to a man we’ve been much more concentrated on the jobs we have to do.
“From a squad mentality aspect it makes a big difference to see us climbing up the table rather than lingering in the bottom four.”
Perhaps not coincidental to Boro's unbeaten run, since January the gaffer has been able to shape his squad more to his liking, bringing in Jon Mousinho, Bira Dembele and Curtis Obeng into the side, and all of them have made key contributions to the side.
“The squad’s naturally quite thin but it’s good to have competition for places in key areas. Bira’s been phenomenal considering the cultural change he’s had to go through - he’s really seamlessly fitted into the team. Curtis also, who hasn’t played a lot of football has done excellently.
“But then the guys who’ve been here all season such as Jimmy and Ash have really stepped up to the plate and that’s showing with our results.
“They’re big players for us, big players in the dressing room and players with experience at this level. Certainly for a person like myself, who’s relatively inexperienced in footballing terms it’s great to have those guys next to you on the pitch, telling you what to do and along with guiding you off the pitch, also.
One of the strongest areas of the team is in midfield; Sam Wedgbury, Dean Parrett, Jon Mousinho, Jimmy Smith and Michael Doughty are all vying for a starting place each week.
“Any good side has good competition within the camp in every position. The midfield area is blessed with a lot of talented individuals. There’s obviously a lot of competition for places but that just puts the emphasis on all of us when we get our opportunities.”
Looking ahead to Carlisle on Saturday, Doughty admitted to taking an interest in their result against Sheffield United last night.
“I kept tabs on it, but I think now we’re in a position which is much more favourable in the sense that it’s in our hands and we’re out of the bottom four. We’re very much looking upwards rather than downwards as we don’t need to rely on other results."
With Carlisle playing yesterday it gives the Stevenage squad a day’s head-start over this weekend’s home side. Although there are obvious benefits to this, Doughty knows the team need to absolutely right to win the game.
“I think the manager's always been keen to stress the importance of preparation and getting us in the right mental and physical state. From that point of view I think we do have a natural advantage as today we’ll be training and getting our prep done for the game whilst they might be cooling down. What we’ve shown this season though and something the manager always tells us is that there are many aspects to winning a game, so we need to get all those right along with the performance on the day to get three points.”