Reds Manager David Flitcroft met with the media ahead of his side’s trip to face Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Championship action gets back underway after a fortnight’s break due to international fixtures.
“The two weeks off, I personally believe has helped us catch up some of the players on the periphery,” said Flitcroft. “It allowed me Monday-Tuesday to rest the lads who have played most of the minutes.
“We’ve had a good balance to the two weeks off. This week the intensity’s gone up to a different level and there’s a freshness.
“We’re looking forward to the game, there’s no doubt about that. We’re looking forward to pitting our wits against one of the Championship’s top sides. It’s a good test for us.”
Forest, guided by Billy Davies, sit in fifth position in the Championship and have only tasted defeat once this term.
Flitcroft added, “It’s something that as a manager you want to try and do – work with the best players. But, sometimes, those talented players don’t want to work hard. What Billy’s done over his tenure, he’s got a talented group of players, very good players, working for each other and he’s set the standard high. He’s got them working, he’s got them pressing hard – that, for me, is the icing.
“You know it’s in there, it’s just unlocking it and getting it out. That’s something Billy’s gone in there and been able to do, he’s got a team of good quality that want to work hard and that’s a secret recipe for success.”
Martin Cranie is in contention for a place in the squad having recovered from a knee injury, whilst Lewin Nyatanga has been labelled by Flitcroft as ‘some way off’ fitness, having featured in a friendly with Manchester City’s development squad last week. Meanwhile, Peter Ramage is hoping to make his debut for the Reds having joined on a season-long loan from Crystal Palace on transfer deadline day.