FOOTBALL players and managers will always tell you that their focus is only on the next game, but from my experience that is not the case.

And I am certain that everybody behind the scenes at the JD Stadium will beware of this fact: that the next three matches will determine their season.

Saturday’s trip to second-bottom Northampton Town is a massive, massive game, but so are the next two at home to Bristol Rovers and Exeter.

Take at least six points from those three matches and Bury will be on 50 points and will probably go on to have a comfortable end to their campaign.

Fail to win any of these games, however, and they will face a struggle to stay in the Football League and I think their future will go right down to the final day of the season.

You can bet your life that the management and players will be focussing on these games like that and, even if they don’t discuss it openly, will have a target in mind for every match, up until the end of the season.

They will have every detail covered, right down to the matches their rivals have left and how many points they could conceivably pick up. And, with all those calculations in mind, they will have an ideal points tally to aim at that should keep them in League Two.

But Bury really don’t need to look that far ahead as I think their season rests in the balance of these next three games.

If they are successful against Northampton, Bristol and Exeter then they will be more or less safe.

If they are not successful, then to be brutally honest they deserve to be down there and will have to learn pretty quickly how to fight for every point because they will have a battle on their hands.

There will be no more talk about bad luck or difficult fixtures – these are the games where Bury have to pick up points.

And for me this is the time that David Flitcroft needs to instil some of the virtues he had as a player into his team.

I think that has started to happen over the past couple of matches, when Bury have reverted to a more traditional 4-4-2.

What Flitcroft has tried to do before that, introducing his own version of total football through a more fluid 3-4-3 system, has been brilliant, really refreshing.

But I don’t think that will get them out of this situation and I don’t think it has necessarily worked as well as he would have liked up to this point.

What Flicker needs to do now is make sure his players are ready for the fight and the battle ahead and if they can do that in the next three games then they can start to plan for bigger and better things next season.