Johansson: We know what to expect from Ayr

Manager Jonatan Johansson has encouraged his players to build on their second half performance at Tannadice two weeks ago as the Ton look to get back to winning ways in the Ladbrokes Championship against Ayr United on Saturday.

The Ton boss also provides latest team news and discusses the recent bounce game against Motherwell and how his new players are settling in.

Johansson told “The game on Saturday will be a tough task for us, Ayr United are enjoying life up the top end of the table and sit only 3 points behind leaders Ross County.

“They have came up after winning the league last year and have continued to build on that positivity, they are direct and are confident in the way they play.

“Ian McCall added some new players in January to strengthen their squad but, in my opinion, their best piece of business was keeping Lawrence Shankland who is a key player for them and that reflects with the amount of goals he has scored.

“The game against Ayr at Cappielow in September was a huge disappointment and certainly a wake-up call for everyone including myself, I definitely learned a lot that day.

“With that being said I felt that everything was going our way until we missed the penalty and then were forced to take Michael [Tidser] and Chris [Millar] off due to injury.

“I looked at that game in depth and felt there were big improvements when we played at Somerset Park in November.

“Looking back on that game, we were very unlucky and created a number of good chances. Our back 5 were solid and dealt with everything that came their way.

“They go down to 10 men with around half an hour still to play but we couldn’t get the winner I think we deserved so I was very disappointed we didn’t come away with all 3 points.

“As I said though Saturday won’t be an easy game but we know what to expect from Ayr and we know the performance levels we have to be at to get a positive result.

“We’ve had a few setbacks with both Charlie [Telfer] and Michael being unable to train for the entire week. A decision will be made tomorrow after we have assessed both of them.

“Rory [McKeown] and Denny [Johnstone] are still out, Rory is trying to recover from a calf injury he sustained in training a few weeks back and Denny is still out with his knee. Gary Oliver will also miss out on Saturday after he twisted his ankle in training.”

The Ton have had 2 weeks to prepare for the game against Ayr United after having a free weekend last week due to the Scottish Cup and Johansson has insisted that the free week has given the squad the extra preparation they need.

He added: “We’ve had a good couple of weeks training where we’ve worked hard on the pitch and worked hard on improving our fitness.

“As we had no game on Saturday we arranged a bounce game against Motherwell last Thursday and the players gave a fine display beating an experienced Motherwell side 3-0.

“It’s good to be able to play in these types of games as it gives us the opportunity to try new things and also gives game time to players that haven’t been playing much or are coming back from injury.”

The Greenock gaffer has also been impressed with what he has seen so far from his January recruits and believes they will help bring more energy to the squad.

He said: “I’m happy with the players we have brought in and I am happy that they have settled in nicely. We have more options now than we did before and there’s a lot of healthy competition in the squad.

“There is plenty of experience in the squad but I felt as though we needed to balance that out by bringing in hungry young players who will inject pace and energy into the team.

“The new players are gelling well but it will take time as some are making the step up from reserve football to first team level football but I have no doubt they will continue to impress and be real assets for the club moving forward.