ACCRINGTON Stanley assistant boss Jimmy Bell says it's a good job his side love a challenge - as it doesn't come much bigger than the six-pointer against Morecambe on Saturday.
All nine Conference games between now and the end of the season are massive for the Reds if they are to make the play-offs.
But Saturday's local derby against John Coleman's old club could boost Stanley's promotion prospects with a win - or Morecambe could leap-frog the ninth placed Reds if they come away from the Interlink with three points.
"We never make life easy for ourselves so it is a good job we love a challenge," said Bell. "It has been an up and down season for most teams in the play-offs. Teams tend to have got up there, fallen away and then bounced back and Morecambe are bouncing back at the moment.
"We have shot ourselves in the foot in the past but now we have got to rise to what is a huge challenge on Saturday.
"To be fair we don't seem to have a problem against the higher placed teams so I have no doubt everyone of the players will be up for it tomorrow and giving their all.
"We have always had the ability, it is just the motivation which seems to have let us down. I thought that was lacking at Carlisle which was frustrating but me, John and Cookey have kept on at the players and hopefully, when they cross the line on Saturday, they will show what they can do.
"Saturday is just massive - it is more or less winner takes all. Morecambe are a good side and have good players like Michael Twiss who can make a difference.
"But we are at home and, with the crowd fully behind us, a win is vital."
Bell is hoping the fans will flock to the Interlink for the derby with Blackburn playing at lunch time at home to Arsenal on Saturday and Burnley travelling to Sheffield United.
"We need to make the Interlink a hostile place for away teams," continued Bell. "We have been to grounds where the opposition fans have made it hard for us and we have got to get the Interlink like that, especially on Saturday when Morecambe will bring a number of fans.
"We know they have been as disappointed as us with some things but we are in a fantastic position. We are up there, among it all, and having a good season - and we can make it better."
Shrimps boss Jim Harvey, whose side have a game in hand on Stanley, is impressed with his side's recent good form, which has lifted them back into the play-off picture.
"We have got eight points from four games and we will take confidence from that and that belief into the Accrington game. If things go well for us on Saturday, it puts us in a really good position. But even if it does not go too well for us, we still won't be a million miles away."
With Morecambe out of the way, Stanley then make the long trip to struggling Canvey Island on Tuesday night.
"That is a tough game as they are fighting for their lives," continued Bell. "They have been in freefall this year and if they aren't careful, could be embroiled in a dog fight. But Lee Boylan has scored a lot of goals for them since he has come back from breaking his leg and he is a big threat. It is another massive game but we seem to be saying that a lot lately!"
Stanley finally hope to have the registration of new striker David Brown from Hereford sorted out. It was held up last week between Hereford and the Conference and it meant the 26-year-old couldn't play in last Saturday's 2-0 loss to Carlisle.
The Reds are confident he will be in the squad on Saturday especially as striker Lee McEvilly is still troubled by a groin strain picked up at Brunton Park.
"It is touch and go with Lee although we are hopeful," said Bell.
Meanwhile, Stanley say the story that they made an illegal approach for Welshpool winger Gary Roberts is untrue. Welshpool chairman Steve Hughes said they have reported the Reds to the Football Association of Wales. But Bell said: "We haven't made an illegal approach. He got in contact with us and we have got international clearance for him. That is disappointing."
Roberts didn't feature in the Carlisle game but may be in the squad on Saturday.
And Stanley haven't ruled out adding a defender to the squad before the March 31 transfer deadline.
- THE Stanley Ultras coach to Canvey Island will leave from the Crown pub at 12noon on Tuesday. The cost is £20. Contact Cammy on 07843 057507, Jase 07788 716164 or Bubs 07952 924802 to book.