Anthony Hayes has described the training pitch as his “sanctuary” – and has insisted that his tough baptism as Charlton Athletic caretaker manager will not faze him.
The Irishman has stepped up after Addicks owner Thomas Sandgaard sacked Ben Garner at the start of last week.
Hayes, who is being assisted by former Charlton captain Jason Pearce, kicked off with a 3-1 FA Cup defeat at Stockport last Wednesday.
Now comes a first League One fixture at the helm against Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last week but I have great self-belief in my ability as a coach,” said Hayes, who joined Charlton’s academy coaching set-up in July 2016.
“Do I feel out of my depth being on the grass? No. That’s my sanctuary. I’m looking forward to 3pm on Saturday. That’s when the talking stops and it’s a case of two teams going to war. We want to come out on top. I don’t feel daunted by the challenge.
“I’ve been thrown into it a little bit but I definitely don’t feel out of my depth. I’ve got great people around me to support me.”
Hayes has risen through the ranks with the South London club and was appointed first-team assistant coach at the start of the season.
Asked if he always wanted to be a boss in his own right, Hayes said: “If I’m being brutally honest, no. I initially wanted to come and prove I could work professionally in the UK because I wasn’t good enough to come over here and play.
“In the last couple of years I’ve realised my skillset could be best suited to working with senior professionals.
“When I had the opportunity to come and work in a first-team environment this season and be around it day to day, I could see that maybe at some point in my career I’d like to put my hand towards being a head coach.
“I said recently that would’ve been a couple of years away. I need to go away and develop, I’ve got plenty of learning to do. But I’m in the position we’re in. The Valley is a special place to play your football. I’m the time I’m leading this I will do everything I can with the staff we have here. We’re desperate for that group of players to achieve some success. Hopefully that starts with three points on Saturday against Bristol Rovers.”
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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