A marauding, attacking presence going forward, the right-back’s defensive capabilities have been rather more open to question on occasions this term, with the Reds’ coaching staff having reinforced the need to stay focused on his back-four duties at all times.
A strong all-round performance against Peterborough United on Boxing Day was a step in the right direction as was helping the Reds record a clean sheet in the success at Blackpool three days before Christmas.
Winkler said: “There has been a reaction because the coaching staff have really talked to him about what he needs to improve to stay in the squad and what everyone expects from him with the ability he has.
“We want him to be more alert in every second especially if we – or he – is not in ball possession. I hope he stays focused and concentrated for the next matches.”
A haul of seven points from a possible nine against promotion-aspiring rivals Peterborough, Blackpool and Portsmouth has got the Reds’ promotion bandwagon on track, with a concession of just one goal in three matches representing a big tick in the box according to Winkler.
On the renewed defensive sheen of the Reds, seeking a third consecutive clean sheet today against a play-off chasing Charlton side who beat them 2-0 at The Valley in October, he added: “I am very pleased about that and we talked about it in the past week.
“That was our problem, we needed to be ruthless in defending together as a team.”