Keith Curle on loans, trialists and contract negotiations
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about how the squad is looking in the wake of the January transfer window activity.
“The squad is looking good ahead of the weekend,” he said. “A few people went into last weekend’s game with knocks, but they got through it and we’re ready to go again. We have a relatively clean bill of health, apart from the ones we know about, so we’re looking forward to it.
“Gary Dicker and Billy Paynter will now start to use the football, and that’s the final phase of their rehabilitation. It’s also been good to see Stephen Elliott back in the building and he’s walking without a limp now. He has hard work ahead of him, but he’s fully aware of that.”
“We took some of the lads to Blackpool for a reserve game on Tuesday, and I have to say the attitude and application were excellent,” he added. “The performance and energy levels were there, and it was everything you would want from a young and committed team which was out there representing our club.
“Nathan [Buddle] got his goal in that game and he’s come here with a real hunger. Everything he’s doing is positive and he’s seeking the right kind of advice. He has a thirst for knowledge and development and he wants to improve in every area. He’s been brought into the club to be involved and he’s shown something I like. I’m confident he will either have started or been involved by the end of the season.”
“We had a look at a couple of trialists – one from the Premier League and one from the Championship – and a couple of our young lads as well,” he explained. “One of our young right backs was involved and it’s the second game I’ve seen him play now. He acquitted himself very well.
“The trialist right winger scored a great goal and it’s all about finding out what’s available over the short, medium and long term. We know where we are right now and we know what we need to do for the situation we’re in.
“We’ve told the trial lads that we will continue to monitor them. We’ve had to be honest and say they aren’t what we need at this moment in time. The right winger has a good turn of pace, decent trickery and good directness. He’s in a very young development stage and we will continue to look at him in his own environment.”
On what he has at his disposal for the coming weeks, he said: “There are players coming back into the fold so the selection problems are the type I like to have.
“There’s good competition and there’s nothing better than going into a game knowing you can make game-changing substitutions. You can make selections to win a game or to close it down and see it out.
“A couple of players have come in and asked me if they’re going to get game time, which is very pleasing. It’s a case of telling them to continue with what they’re doing because they aren’t far away. There’s enough games left for people to get in the team and stay there. There will be competition, and potentially there will be new additions when the loan window opens to add to that. Make no mistake, the squad and the rebuilding isn’t finished yet.
“There’s a unity growing and, as I said last week, we’ve had the same back five for a couple of games now. That gives you a foundation. The emergence of Anthony Griffith and Courtney Meppen-Walter is a partnership that’s growing. The competitive edge in the middle of the pitch is getting there. Overall there are some very good signs.”
And on the contract negotiations with Brad Potts and Kyle Dempsey, he said: “John [Nixon] has sent an email out to both of their representatives which highlighted the last offer we made.
“They responded with their offers, and the finer points – the length and basic salaries – have been agreed. It’s now some of the other things which still need to be talked about.
“Your gut feeling goes out the window when it comes to players, agents and contracts. If it’s right for them, they’ll sign it and, I have to say, that’s rightly so. They’ve got to be 100% happy with what they’re signing and why they’re doing it.
“It can’t be a quick fix to buy time because they want to shoot off in the summer. That’s not the type of people I want to surround myself with. I want people who are committed to the club, but with the honest belief that if another club comes in, and we think it’s right for them to go, but for the right amount of money to show the new club values them correctly, then we won’t stand in their way.
“These players have an open and honest relationship with us and we don’t hide anything away. We got a call from an agent saying Blackpool had asked if they could get a deal done for Brad Potts, but nobody had spoken to me or anyone else at the club. That was purely speculation on behalf of the player’s agent.
“When we played Blackpool on Tuesday I was stood beside Lee Clark, and his backroom staff, and Brad Potts wasn’t mentioned once. That makes you think it was something started by the agent to create a bit of interest.”
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