Zesh Rehman has told the Valley Parade boo boys they are wasting their breath because he has put up with stick all his life.

City’s skipper has been targeted by a small section of home fans and received heavy abuse after a mistake led to a goal in the recent defeat against Macclesfield.

Rehman rode the storm to bounce back with two solid defensive displays and even scored in Tuesday’s first win in seven games.

He is confident of winning over his critics – but insists their taunts won’t affect him.

Rehman said: “I’ve grown up with comments from the age of ten. I’ve been used to that negativity for my whole life.

“I’ve become thick-skinned to it. The game changes so quickly, you can’t afford to be up, down, up, down or you’d be an emotional wreck.

“The fans have the right to voice their frustration. The only disappointing thing was some of the comments but that’s football and you’ve got to be strong enough to deal with it. You’ve got to have that mental toughness if you want to be a footballer.”

Rehman made a point of celebrating his goal against Morecambe with Peter Taylor. It was the defender’s way of acknowledging the manager’s faith in him following his Easter blunder.

“I was desperate to do well after the last home game and I wanted to thank the gaffer for showing belief in me to keep me in the team,” he said.

“He left me on against Macclesfield when the easiest thing would have been to haul me off. I appreciated he showed that good experience of man-management to leave me on and let me play through it.

“I was really grateful for that and the next game couldn’t come quick enough. I was so pleased to score and it was nice to be able to celebrate with the gaffer.

“Hopefully now I can stay in the middle of the back four and help us to a strong finish.”

City have been hit hard by injuries and none of the walking wounded are expected to feature against Barnet at Valley Parade tomorrow.

But Rehman believes the selection problems have allowed some of the lesser lights to shine – and he has been hugely impressed with goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin’s performances in the last two games.

The captain said: “Circumstances change in football and there’s an opportunity now for young lads like Leon Osborne, Jonny Bateson, James O’Brien and especially Jon McLaughlin. Through all the injuries, the door is open for these younger lads.

“We’re all team-mates and here for each other, as we have been all season. But when the chance comes, someone like Jon has grabbed it and staked a claim to get another contract.

“He’s been brilliant in the last two games and I’m really pleased for him. Jon’s a great pro who works hard every day.

“In all the time I’ve been here, I’ve never heard him complain. He comes in every morning bright and bubbly for training.

“It just takes one manager to have that bit of belief in you and the confidence to give you a go.”

Rehman, who scored in the 2-2 draw at Underhill earlier in the season, hopes City can take the added belief from midweek into the penultimate home game.

He said: “There’s no better feeling than winning. It’s a bit too late now but we can go into the last four games with a confidence boost.

“Everyone’s got something to play for and we want to finish on a high. It was a good win over Morecambe and we’ll look to keep that going.”