Brendan Rodgers calls for fearless Swansea City

Npower Championship

Venue:
Fratton Park
Date:
Saturday, 23 April
Kick-off:
1500 BST
Coverage:
Watch highlights on The Football League Show; Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website
Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers accepts the Swansea players are beginning to feel the pressure

Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers has told his players to play without fear in the final four games of the season as they aim for the Premier League.

The Swans have slipped to fifth place in the Championship after a run of two wins from eight games.

But Rodgers has backed his players to bounce back, starting at Portsmouth on Saturday, and to relish the challenge.

"The message is simple - we go out and enjoy because it's a different pressure at the bottom of the league," he said.

"We're up near the top, so go out and enjoy it. We can still achieve what we want to achieve and with four games to go we've got the possibility to do that.

"You can't have fear in these games. We've got to relish the opportunity and seize the moment because they don't come around too often."

Poor away form, which has yielded just just one win in five, has been Swansea's major stumbling-block as the race for the top-two automatic promotion spots has intensified.

A fourth successive defeat on their travels came at Burnley last Saturday when the home side battled back from going a goal behind to win 2-1.

Rodgers bemoaned "a terrible run of luck" recently, highlighting the own-goal scored by Ashley Williams at Turf Moor and then the debatable penalty conceded by Angel Rangel which led to Burnley's winner.

The manager, in his first season at the Liberty Stadium, concedes to being slightly worried about his side's recent tendency to lose their shape and self-belief when going behind away from home, but stressed he had complete faith in his players' courage on the field.

"All I've asked the players to do is to go out and attack every game," he said.

"We need to be strong organisationally and in our defensive moments. We've attacked all season, always with good tactical discipline. Our defensive record shows that, in relation to only 10 goals conceded at home.

"We've obviously conceded a few more away from home, which we don't like. But this is a group of players that has immense courage. We just need to ensure that we function how we do for 90 minutes, and that nothing changes whether we go a goal behind or a goal in front."

Swansea have prepared for the Portsmouth match by spending three days at the luxurious surrounds of Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey - the five-star country house hotel and spa used by the England rugby union squad as a training base for this year's Six Nations Championship.

A gagging order has even been placed on the players, preventing them from giving any pre-match media interviews. The desired objective, said Rodgers, is to "relieve the pressure" on the players, ensuring that the game becomes their "sole focus".

"There is pressure, there's no doubt you're getting into a stage of the season which is fantastic and every minute of every game counts," he added.

"We've agreed amongst ourselves this was important for the players to stay focused. But we've got to pick ourselves up.

"You're best judged when you're down and obviously our home performances have been outstanding but we need to be better away from home, it's as simple as that.

"We've already shown that when we do go 1-0 in front that we can win games, and that's something that's just slipped a little bit.

"But I've got every confidence. We now go into our final cycle of games where our objectives and targets are still there to be achieved."