'Probably the biggest club in the league' - Jim O'Brien on expectation at Notts County
Magpies host Woking this weekend as they look to maintain playoff pushby Leigh Curtis
Jim O’Brien says Notts County have had to deal with major expectation this season because they are “probably the biggest club” in the National League.
Neal Ardley’s side are currently chasing glory on two fronts with the Magpies hoping to claim a playoff spot and could also face a trip to Wembley in the FA Trophy.
Despite a summer of financial hardship, which only relented when the Reedtz brothers took over from previous owner Alan Hardy, Notts have been expected to be fighting for a return to the Football League.
But they have also had to cope with being considered the biggest scalp in the division with boss Neal Ardley claiming teams often raise their game against the world’s oldest professional club.
Ahead of this weekend’s clash against Woking, who will be looking to avenge a 4-0 defeat earlier in the season, O’Brien says the players are well aware of what is required.
“They’ll be hurting from the last game and will come to give a good account of themselves and put things right, so we’ll need to be at it,” said O’Brien.
“We’ve known the expectancy since the start of the season because we’re probably the biggest club in the league.
“You have to be able to deal with it and the lads all know that.
“We’re just trying to keep little runs going as long as possible and then the consistency will hopefully see us through.”
O’Brien is set to become a key figure for Notts during the run-in with the midfielder having had his return from injury accelerated because of suspension to Michael Doyle.
It has been a hugely frustrating campaign for the Scotsman who suffered a broken arm against Bromley in September that needed surgery.
He then suffered a nasty eight-inch gash in his thigh against Chesterfield in December in what was his first game back from that spell on the sidelines.
But he returned once again late last month and is relishing the run-in that Notts hope will lead to a fine double in the league and the Trophy.
“I’m really looking forward to the run-in and hopefully I’ll bring some freshness to the group,” said O’Brien.
“Circumstances dictated that I had to play 90 minutes at the weekend and now it’s about looking forward and not thinking about what’s gone before.
“Hopefully that’s behind me now and I can look forward to the run-in and try to contribute to the team.
“I’m just buzzing to be back out there with them – enjoying it, laughing, moaning and joking with everyone.
“The manager told me that the recent Chesterfield game probably came a week too soon for his original plans but as a footballer you just want to be playing.
“The most important thing for me has been to get minutes and I want to play as much as possible.
“It took a little longer to recover after the Yeovil game but I’ve missed that feeling and it’s good to have it again because you know you’re going in the right direction.”