Nick Cushing | "Gabriel Pereira Is Back."

Gabriel Pereira CLT

Nick Cushing has confirmed Gabriel Pereira is back in contention for Saturday’s trip to Charlotte FC.

The Boys in Blue are on the road again this weekend, traveling to North Carolina in the second match of a five-game road stretch, with the Brazilian having missed Saturday’s visit to Toronto FC.

The Head Coach shared a positive squad update ahead of the clash, asserting his squad have responded well to last weekend’s setback, whilst highlighting the importance of squad depth in the midst of a heavy schedule.

“Gabriel Pereira is 100% fit,” he declared. “He’s back in, he’s trained. He’s trained really well today.

“Training has been excellent. We actually played on Tuesday just to prepare us for the three-game weeks – we played a short game just to get the guys that haven’t played so much football a bit of rhythm.

“We’ll always look to rotate – maybe I’ll rotate, two, three four… We have a game on Wednesday against Cincinnati, and against a team I expect to play their strongest team because their bye week is following the US Open Cup.

“Following that, we then go to Red Bulls, and then following that, we go to Orlando in midweek. We’ve got a bit of a busy period now, so rotation will be really important.”

Seeking a first road win of 2023, the City Boys face a Charlotte side who have endured a tough start to the campaign themselves.

The Crown have only won two of their opening ten fixtures, but are unbeaten in their last four at home – a note Cushing is wary of.

“Our focus is 100%,” he continued. “We’re off the back of a defeat on the road, we’re also a team that’s not won on the road, so for us to take Charlotte lightly, or for us to not be prepared is not an option for us.

“I know Christian [Lattanzio, Charlotte Head Coach] really well, and I know the way he sets his team up, so at home in particular, there'll be a difficult team to play against. They're also probably hugely motivated to get a home win.

“They won against Columbus, they then probably are disappointed with the D.C. [United] result. I'm not on the inside so I don't know why they've struggled, but they have a good team. 

“They've built a good team, they play a similar possession-based game to us. They'll look to dominate the ball, they'll look to try and create moments and overloads over the pitch that will create goal chances. 

“I think they're a good team, and they will come good. I know the coach well, and he will coach that team to a place where they can win football games.

Nick presserCLT

“We’ve got to make sure that it doesn't start against us, and they don't get that dominant performance that they're looking for.  We have to look at their threats but I concentrate on our team – solely on how we can replicate our home performances away.

“For us, it's really important that we improve our away performance. Here, the guys are hugely motivated to make sure that we put a performance in that will give us the opportunity to win on the road.

“We’re in a process of improving that, we're in a process of developing and sustaining that within games, but I said at half-time [against Toronto]: we have to be a team that can – even if we don't start the game so well – self-correct and get a foothold in the game with our style, or continue to suffer and grind out results. 

“It's a process. We're impatient with the process, but we've trained well, we know the areas we have to improve on, and now it's just about going into the game with the right mentality to retain the good defensive shape, and mentality that we have – but also gain that real offensive mentality where we can go and hurt teams.

“We know on the road that it's not going to be like home games – we're not going to dominate games, and get our crowd behind us, and really play free-flowing attacking football – but in the moments that we do get, we have to hurt them.

“There were moments in the Toronto game at the start when we get down the side, and we switch the play into Matías Pellegrini, or we get Talles Magno in behind, and we have to create moments from there because that's the only way we're going to get points on the road. 

“We’ve done that previously. I looked back at games like Montréal on the road, Dallas on the road last year where we didn’t play so well for the whole game, but we still came away with a point or a win.

“Those games will come. We know we’ll develop that. The hunger and the desire for the team to develop that is there. The same as the fans, we want it quicker, we're impatient, we want it to happen quickly.”

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