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MANAGER: All part of the challenge

1 October 2015

Keith Curle on travel, Ibehre, Rigg, Gilliead and short term contracts

Manager Keith Curle caught up on a number of issues at his weekly press conference held at Creighton Rugby Club on Thursday afternoon.

Looking back at the victory over Leyton Orient, he said: “Tuesday night was a reward for a lot of planning and attention to detail. The players understood that both the journey and the opposition were challenges they needed to face. 

“The preparation we do on the mental side of the game has been given a lot of attention this season. We know we have plenty of long trips to get through but we’re seeing that as part of the challenge.” 

“As I said the other night, the Orient game has finally put Liverpool to bed,” he continued. “We’re in a position where we can now move on. Tuesday night has set us off on another bank of games. 

“We’ve made sure the positives have been taken from what happened at Liverpool but we also have negatives to address with what happened at York and against Newport.”

On the hamstring injury picked up by Jabo Ibehre at last Saturday’s home game, he said: “Jabo isn’t as bad as was first feared. When a hamstring is mentioned people automatically think about 6 to 10 weeks. We’ve been informed it won’t be that long, but we’ll stay away from putting a direct timescale on it.

“Obviously we have looked at cover but there’s no sense of panic. We asked about two players but both requests were rejected. That’s disappointing but it shows the calibre of player we’re going for. 

“They’re currently at League One clubs and they haven’t been regular starters. We wanted to give them an opportunity to play here but that hasn’t happened for us. With all of our recruitment at the moment we’re looking for players who can be starters for us straight away. If we can’t find that we’ll make do with what we’ve got, because we do have a strong squad here at the moment.”

“The players on short term contracts have all played an important part,” he continued. “We'll start looking at where we are with these players in mid-November. I'll make the decisions on whether we keep these players for longer at that point. 

“It won't be before that, but we'll do it then so the players have a full understanding of what is happening. If they are made available they can enter the next transfer window out of contract.” 

“I spoke to the FA regarding Alex Gilliead's call-up and they told us we would have to speak to Newcastle,” he explained. “He hasn’t been called up for competitive games so I talked to Paul Simpson who then spoke to the powers that be at Newcastle. Their opinion was that the best thing for Alex was to go with England. He was in the squad and then wasn't picked because he wasn't playing games, so it's important he now goes back into the fold and doesn't shy away from his international duties. 

“We've done the right thing by trying to argue our case, but he's a Newcastle player and we respect that. We look after them as if they're our players, but we're mindful of the fact that Newcastle are doing what is best for them and for Alex. We'll have Alex for Saturday's game and he then leaves on the Sunday. 

“Part of that same conversation was me saying that we would like to extend the loans of both of the Newcastle lads [Gilliead and Gillesphey]. If we could get them until January, for example, we'd look at it again at that point and try and extend it until the end of the season, particularly if it was still suiting both parties. Both players have integrated well on and off the field and you would have to say their first introduction to league football has been a success so far. 

“You could say that losing Alex, along with the injuries to Jabo [Ibehre] and Charlie [Wyke] leaves us short in that area, but it could be an opportunity for Steven Rigg to step up to the plate. As a squad we can't afford to carry anybody. If Steven comes in and gets the opportunity you can't tell me that he couldn't go and score two goals. 

“Riggy has had to bide his time but he's been training his socks off and working hard at his game. What he needs now is the opportunity. You sometimes find that it comes around when you don't expect it, but you've got to make sure you take it with both hands.”

And looking ahead to a rare week without a midweek fixture, he said: “We're going to try and arrange a game for Wednesday next week. We've had a busy ten day period with a lot of travelling, but we do have players who need more pitch time.

“If we get a positive performance on Saturday we'll look to give the players a day off on Monday. We'll have a training day on the Tuesday then normal training for some on Wednesday, with the bounce game for the others.” 

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