THE battle to beat the drop has taken its toll on Raphael Branco’s personal life, admits the Swindon Town central defender.
The 26-year-old, who is one of the more experienced heads in a young squad, has acknowledged that the pressure heaped on the side in the last few months after dropping into the bottom four in League One, has been difficult to handle.
While head coach Luke Williams has tried to shake off the burden of expectation to survive the drop with just four games remaining, Branco was unable to hide the impact it has had on him personally.
“It’s not been easy for the last two months,” he said.
“Sometimes you don’t sleep properly, you can’t really go out with the family, fans are abusing you, it’s not easy.
“I think it has been a good experience for me that I do not want to live again in my career.
“We have got to deal with that. We are humans, footballers and the pressure is here and we have to deal with it in the best way we can.
“At the moment, we just need to worry about ourselves. If we pick up seven points from the next three games, I think we’ll be safe.
“At the moment, it is in our hands, so we can’t let this slip from our hands because that will make things much harder.
“I don’t want to go into the last game of the season where we need to win to stay up.
“If we can pick up as many points as we can from the next three games, I think we are going to be alright.”
Town continue their fight this afternoon (3pm) at the County Ground when they play host to AFC Wimbledon.
Having seen how Milton Keynes Dons played with the shackles off last week, having no pressure of promotion or demotion to tend with, Branco is aware that they must take the game to their opponents if they are to get above the dotted line.
“Maybe the next two games are going to be like that against Wimbledon and Walsall,” he added.
“They are not really chasing for anything so they are going to be relaxed and playing with freedom but now we need to be clever.
“Luke has been telling us all week what we need to do, get an early goal and get the confidence up in the game.
“We need (to take risks) because the only way we are going to get out of this situation is by winning games.
“Sometimes we are going to be 2v1 at the back or 3v2 but if we score first, we have got more chance to win the game and this is what we are trying to do.”