Keith Curle on team ethics, trialists and the captain's armband
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the rapidly approaching kick off of the new season at his Thursday afternoon press conference.
“It seems like it’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Even more so for me because I knew we’d had a big change round at the end of last season.
“We knew there was then going to be an influx of new players who needed to embed themselves into the football club. We came back slightly earlier so that they could get used to what was needed on a professional level in and around the club.
“It does take a bit of time for them to buy into the ethos of how we want to play football on the pitch, and also how we want them to conduct themselves on a daily basis.”
“I’ve been very impressed with the group we’ve assembled,” he added. “There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into it and that started before last season had even ended.
“Lee [Dykes] was out there identifying potential targets based on football ability and character. We’re now very comfortable with where we’re at. I’ve been very happy with my pre-season preparations. I’ve just given my final collective address to the players to thank them for their effort and commitment.
“I wanted them to know that I’ve enjoyed working with them and I’ve really enjoyed watching them do their work. It’s been varied and different and some of the things they’ve been challenged with are things they will never have done before.
“They’ve gone through pre-season with a smile on their face and the hardest thing I have to do now, as I’ve told them, is to condense the squad down into a team of 18 for this trip. The important thing is for people not to get off the bus if they aren’t involved, because there will be some who are disappointed.
“If they are feeling that way I’ve told them to come and see me. I’ll give them the answers as to why they aren’t with us and why they haven’t been picked. Then it’s down to them to deal with that and to bring what they have back to the table when they have the chance to impress again. That’s the team ethic we’re trying to strive for within the squad.”
On trialists Phil Billing and Nicky Walker, he said: “We brought Philip in to have a look at him. He trained with us for a few days and he played in a friendly game on Tuesday. He showed some nice touches, good awareness and agility, but it’s one we won’t pursue at this moment in time. I don’t think he would get the game time he needs if he came to us now.
“I spoke to Nicky Walker after that game as well and I’ve brought an end to his trial spell here. He’s another who wouldn't have got the game time he wanted, had he stayed. With the age both lads are at they need to be playing games.”
“There hasn’t been any interest in the players we’ve made available,” he confirmed. “A few of them played against Queen of the South on Tuesday in what was a competitive game. We’re mindful of the fact everyone wants to be available for Saturday so it wasn’t as cut and thrust as you would expect. I’m very confident if any of those players are needed they can play a part in the game on Saturday.”
And on who will wear the captain’s armband this season, he said: “Danny Grainger will stay as our captain. I like him as a character.
“He takes the lead in most things and he’s not scared to make a mistake or to voice an opinion. Sometimes it’s how you react when you’ve made a mistake, and that’s what I like about him.
“If you’re a captain you’ve got to be prepared to make a mistake and still put yourself forward. He has a voice that’s respected and he leads by example in everything he does. People aren’t allowed to hide away and he keeps the group together. What we need to do is make sure that’s allied with him being a consistent performer on the field.”
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