Clear week at last means the Brewers have the chance to re-focus for FA Cup at Crewe
BURTON Albion are up for the FA Cup again tomorrow – with manager Gary Rowett delighted to have had the "luxury" of a clear week to work with his squad.
The Brewers travel to Crewe Alexandra for a second round tie feeling they have a real chance to repeat their Capital One Cup exploits earlier in the season – when they knocked out both Sheffield United and Leicester City.
And while they go into the game on the back of defeats in their last two League Two matches, Rowett feels Burton can use the Cup tie to refocus on what they do best.
"It's been a real luxury to have no midweek game and we've had a really good week in training," he said.
"It'll be nice that it'll be the same next week too.
"We've been able to work on getting back to basics, rather than just having game after game.
"I always thought that having so many games so close together might have been a problem.
"In the end, we coped OK with the Thursday to Saturday thing – and then came away from it on the Tuesday to Saturday.
"During that run, I gave a lot of thought to rotating the team but it's hard to do it when you're winning.
"I was never quite brave enough to give four or five of them a rest when we were going well – you just don't know how that will work out.
"But we're not going to come away from our plan this season just because we've lost a couple of games."
Rowett will not exactly tell his men to relax when they go out to face Crewe tomorrow – but he feels they may not be under so much pressure.
"The game itself is as important as any other, maybe even more so, as it offers the chance to be in the third round of the FA Cup," he said.
"But it's a one-off game and an opportunity, perhaps, to play like we did at Leicester.
"Can we give Crewe a problem? Can we play with a little more freedom? I hope so."
The perceived wisdom about Crewe, of course, is that they always play an attractive, passing game and have continued to do so through a long succession of relegations and promotions throughout Dario Gradi's time at the club.
They went from the lower reaches of the League Two table last season to claim the last play-off place and then won the play-offs to get into League One.
In doing so, Rowett feels new manager Steve Davis (Gradi is now a director) added more steel to the Crewe ethos.
"Crewe were brilliant at times under Dario," he said.
"On some days, they could pass you off the park.
"I played against them in the Championship. You always knew what they'd do and, if you could cope with that, you could give them a problem.
"What Steve has done has been to make them perhaps a bit tougher and that has worked well.
"What they've done since getting promoted – and it's a big factor – is to attract a few better players than they could have attracted in League Two.
"So, we'll show them healthy respect. But we're not going to think they're unbeatable."
The Brewers are again likely to be close to full strength for the tie.
Matt Paterson is struggling with a groin problem, while fellow striker Adi Yussuf scored in the reserves' 2-2 draw with Tranmere Rovers in midweek but also aggravated his groin injury.
However, on-loan winger Jordan Chapell returned from his ankle injury in the reserve game, looked sharp and could be in contention for a place in the team.