Ryan Toulson says rock-bottom Bradford Park Avenue will be ‘fighting for their lives’ to get a much-needed win at The Shay on Saturday.
Avenue sacked their manager Alex Meechan on Monday having failed to win so far this season, losing eight and drawing three of their first eleven league matches.
They have appointed ex Halifax captain Mark Bower as Meechan’s successor.
Skipper Toulson joined Park Avenue after being released by Guiseley at the end of last season, who he helped survice in the National League at the expense of Halifax.
He left The Shay in 2014 after an association with the club stretching back more than 10 years.
Toulson came through the youth team with the old Halifax Town, making his debut under Chris Wilder before rejoining the new club in 2011, helping them to promotion to the Conference Premier and scoring two goals in 109 appearances under Neil Aspin.
The defender revealed he discussed his plans with Shay boss Billy Heath in the summer, but insists his loyalties now lie solely with Park Avenue.
“I spoke to Billy in the summer while he was still at North Ferriby,” he said.
“But when he joined Halifax nothing came of it so it wasn’t to be.
“They’re always going to be a big club and it’s a tough job for any manager to go there and get the team to where they want to be, which is in the National League.
“They got off to a good start but they’ve had a bit of a shaky spell.
“It’s a big ask for us going there, no-one will back us to get a win.
“We’ll be fighting for our lives to get a result but there’ll be no pressure on us.
“We know it will be a tough game. We know how Billy’s teams play but we will prepare for that and we’ll work hard for each other.
“Every time I go back there is an enjoyable experience.
“There aren’t many faces left now from when I was there.
“It’ll be a nice occasion for me but I’ll be focused on getting a result for the team.”
Toulson was unequivocal when asked whether the Park Avenue squad believe they can haul themselves out of trouble.
“Definitely,” he responded. “If you don’t have that belief you’ll never get the results you want.
“With me being skipper it’s a case of keeping the dressing room in good spirits.
“The spirit’s been good at training this week and we just have to keep going.
“We had a chat as a group and we know what we need to do going forward.
“We need to do whatever it takes to grind out a result.”
Toulson admits the Avenue squad mus take most of the blame for their current predicament.
“It’s obviously not been going right for us. The gaffer came in and the ideas he brought were good,” Toulson added.
“We have to look at the lads that have been going out on the pitch and we know we let him (Meechan) down a lot.
“It comes a lot from the players not performing but hopefully we will turn it around.
“The gaffer put a team together he thought was good enough to compete.
“There’s a lot of experience in there with myself, Nicky Wroe, Liam Dickinson and Shane Killock.
“It’s a totally new squad so it was always going to take time but obviously the board felt it wasn’t working.
“It’s a shame to see him go but the lads need to stick together now.”