Gary Mills has challenged his Gateshead side to grasp the “exciting incentive” of a place in the play-offs.
The Tynesiders welcome Nuneaton Town to the International Stadium today standing eighth in Skrill Premier, one point outside the top five.
Mills had hoped by now to have a new face, on loan from a Football League club, on board but he, and one more arrival, seem likelier to be in place for Tuesday’s visit of Aldershot Town.
Trialists Brendon Daniels and Greg McDermott have not been offered deals, Joe Tait has returned to Darlington 1883 and while Dan Smith, Luke O’Brien and Adam Boyes are available for transfer, Carl Magnay has asked to go out on loan.
But for those left, Mills says, this afternoon’s clash with ninth-placed Nuneaton represents a “fantastic opportunity” to climb into promotion contention and realise a “bit of a dream”.
“It’s exciting,” said Mills, who is without Liam Hatch (hand).
“Everybody connected with the club has worked very hard, given the demands I’ve put on the players to even get us into this situation, and where we were at the start of the season.
“So it’s a fantastic opportunity, knowing that come 5pm on Saturday we actually could be in that play-off spot.
“That’s a nice feeling, it’s a nice incentive. It’s what we’ve worked hard for.
“But we’re playing against a good side in Nuneaton, who are having a good season, and we know we’ve got to be at our best to go and get those three points that could achieve that.
“I said after the draw at Halifax (Town) on New Year’s Day that the next three weeks would dictate our season.
“Can we get in there and stay in there, and go and achieve a play-off position this season?
“Or are we not going to achieve that, and I have to start thinking about next season come the middle of February, which is not something that inspires me? It’s not something I want to happen.
“So without doubt, the next two or three weeks are going to be vital to where we’re going to go.”
Mills added: “Everybody wants to be successful.
“I certainly do, and I want a group of players who want to be successful.
“I think they’re enjoying the hard work I’ve put on them, the fact that we’ve got a chance to get into those play-offs.
“I think it’s a bit of a dream for some of them, especially after the poor start that the club had. They’ve got to enjoy that.”