RICHIE Wellens admitted preparation in the build-up to this afternoon’s sorry loss at Cheltenham Town proved difficult, given out-of-contract players know chances of them remaining at the club next season are extremely low.

Late goals for Theo Robinson and Marc Richards did little to win over the Town boss – who was left angered by his side’s lacklustre first-half performance where they conceded three goals.

This afternoon’s loss hasn’t just ended Town’s mathematical hopes of reaching the play-offs, but it also confirmed Wellens’ side cannot finish the season in the top half.

Despite being encouraged by Swindon’s movement in the game’s opening 20 minutes, Wellens slammed more missed opportunities in front of goal and a disastrous defensive performance.

He added: “Where do we start – the first half was a fair reflection of our season.

“We were very good for the first 20 minutes and got into some good areas, but we didn’t make that count.

“At the other end, Cheltenham got a couple of corners and two goals from that.

“It was a calamity in defence – we’ve got no leaders that grip people and make sure that we defend our box.

“It’s hard as a manager, because I know that there will be a big turnover. I tried to make a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to get wound up either way.

“But at half time I was having a heart attack, because I was so angry.

“But then I thought to myself, 80 per cent of today’s squad will not be here next year.

“I’m having a heart attack because I care, I still want to win for my personal pride and for my own team.”

While not directly apologising to the 1,100 plus Swindon fans that made the trip, Wellens did state players failed to perform at a level he would expect.

Consequently, the Town boss confirmed he will use youth players for next weekend’s visit of Notts County at the County Ground.

That’s despite Town’s under 18s facing Oxford United on the final day of their Merit League campaign – a game which will clinch them the southern title should they pick up a win.

Wellens added: “We had over a thousand supporters today – and we’ve got players that are still in contract at the club just going through the motions.

“A couple of loan players looked like loan players do – they want to go back to their parent club.

“And we’ve got 15 out of contract, of which only two or so will stay, so it’s hard to keep them motivated.

“I’ll try my best to go next week. Notts County need to win to stay up, so we’ve got responsibility for Macclesfield to do our best.”