Keith Curle ahead of the visit of Portsmouth
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us ahead of the visit of Portsmouth on Saturday.
“Portsmouth are a good side, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “When you get home crowds in excess of 16,000 it brings with it the finances to secure signings who should be good enough to get you out of the division. With that comes the expectation from the fans. They’re at the right end of the table and that suggests they’re handling that.
“They have good players and they need to be stopped from playing their game. However, they’re a League Two side and they have weaknesses. A lot of our focus this week has been on identifying their strengths and weaknesses so that we can implement our style of play.
“It’s the process we go through every week and that hasn’t changed from the day we walked into the club. We know we have players who can give Portsmouth problems to deal with if we do the things we’ve talked about and practiced. Everything we do is to try to help us to get three points.”
And with somewhere in the region of 1,000 away fans expected, he said: “Our fans don’t get out-shouted here at Brunton Park. Even if Portsmouth bring over a thousand very vocal fans I know they won’t out-shout us.
“I think back to when we were two down to Yeovil in the last home game. They didn’t turn us. They got behind us and we ended up lifting our performance and winning the game. It’s good to know you have that level of support behind you.”
“We almost have a clean bill of health which is good news for us,” he revealed. “The only one we’ll be without is Macaulay Gillesphey. He’s still under treatment with Newcastle United.
“That is down to some kind of stress syndrome in his pelvic / groin area due to the rigours of full time training and competitive games. That can happen with young lads.
“Having everyone back means I have selection headaches of the kind I want. The starting eleven has been picked and it’s now a case of condensing it down so that I’m happy with the options I have coming off the bench. We do have people who can change games from that position and we try to cover as many bases as possible.
“The players who were unavailable last week, and who are now coming back, have lifted the whole squad. There’s a freshness and bounce about them because they’ve missed being part of it. Once you put competitive people into a competitive environment it creates a good working atmosphere.”
“We all know the squad was stretched through injury and illness last week,” he said. “Having said that, we were in the game for more than an hour and there wasn’t much between the teams.
“Our disappointment was that we didn’t test their keeper enough. Had David Atkinson’s free kick gone in it might have been a different story. It didn’t go that way for us, but we still knew we had enough in our dressing room to be competitive and I think that was the case.
“There were some late changes because of injuries and we did look disjointed at times. I thought the players who came in acquitted themselves adequately and credit to them for that.”
On the return of talisman striker Jabo Ibehre, he said: “He is back, firing and available for selection, as he was last week. He looked good when he came on at Bristol and he has had another good training week under his belt.
“He got his goals before the injury because his attitude was that he felt he was going to score every time he went out. I’ve seen again this week that the hunger and desire to get back on the pitch is there with him. That has a knock on effect because other people feed off it.”
Speaking about the loan agreements in place for Hallam Hope [Bury] and Mark Ellis [Shrewsbury] he said: “Discussions are ongoing with both parent clubs. There’s a level of communication above manager and coaching staff at the moment and we’re hopeful we can get that sorted out soon.
“We’ve had some trial players in over the last few weeks and we’re waiting to find out if we can get international clearance for one of them at the moment. We invited another one back to train with us this week and we’ll look to get him involved in another bounce game the week after next.
“I’ll be talking to the other out of contract players we have in the squad at the end of November. I want to tell them what my decision is in plenty of time so they know where they stand. I’m clear in my mind on three or four of them, but there is still time for that to change either way.
“With my own contract, we’ve had another couple of meetings but I don’t think there’s anything to panic about. It’s a case that everything has to be right for both parties. We don’t want any grey areas or verbal agreements, or anything like that.
“We want it in writing because, in my opinion, a contract is a contract and everyone then abides by it because it’s a legally binding document. More meetings are planned soon because it’s important to us all that, moving forward, it’s right for everybody concerned.”
And his final words were for the phenomenal effort produced by the ground staff to get the pitch back to a playable condition following the heavy weekend rainfall.
“The effort to get the pitch sorted was unbelievable and the ground staff need to take a lot of credit. They put a lot of work in to keep the main pitch and the training pitch in the condition it needs to be in. It shows a level of dedication and attention to detail the club can be proud of.
“The attitude they showed is the same right through the club because people know their roles and responsibilities and they're proud of the jobs they do. It’s making it a good place to work.”
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