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MANAGER: One eye has to remain on Boxing Day

23 December 2016

Keith Curle on Christmas Day and interest in his players

Manager Keith Curle spoke to us again about the importance of the festive period at his Friday afternoon press conference – held as Storm Barbara swept into Carlisle bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

“The weather has taken a turn for the worst but we’ll be out their training anyway,” he said. “Rain, hail or shine, we go out there to do our work because if it’s raining at 3pm on Boxing Day we can’t turn round and say we’re not playing.

“The lads will get on with it because that’s the type of characters we have. We’ll start to get the messages across about what we want to do against Crewe and I know they’ll give it their full attention and commitment, as usual.”

Looking ahead to the run of three games in eight days, starting with that trip to Gresty Road on Monday, he said: “I think it’s a massive period. There are two away games coming up, which will take us to the half way point in the season, and they’re games we feel we can get positive results from.

“It’ll be interesting to see what our points haul will be after 23 games because that will set a benchmark for ourselves for what we need to try to achieve through the second half of the season.

“We’ll also use it as a chance to look back at what we’ve been doing well and areas where we feel we still need to improve. I think that process can spread into the football club whereby they can assess what they feel has gone right and where they can also push things on.”

The players have been given Christmas Day to spend with their families and the manager confirmed that he has a huge amount of trust in his group as, following one last Christmas Eve training session, he’ll send them off to enjoy some of the season’s festivities.

“This is a period where the players and staff sacrifice family time because they know they have a job to do,” he said. “However, I always give my players Christmas Day off, because I’ve been at clubs where we’ve trained at 10 in the morning and then again at six at night.

“I’m a big believer that people need to enjoy their families on Christmas Day, but come evening time they need to be switching their focus to the game on Boxing Day. They can have a glass of wine or champagne with their dinner, but one eye has to be on their performance the next day.”

Speaking about injured duo Danny Grainger and Mike Jones, he said: “The update on those lads is that they’re still injured. The full attention of my medical staff is on them because they’re good players and we want them back in the fold as quickly as possible.

“The good thing is that they’re on the road to recovery and I trust my staff to bring them through to a point where they’re ready to go again when they get handed back to me.”

When the festive run of fixtures come to a close with the Grimsby home game on 2 January, the transfer window will be the next topic of interest, and the first team boss revealed that he has targets in mind should the opportunity to make a move arise.

“As a football club we’re working together all the time,” he told us. “We all know we don’t have bundles of money in draws and cupboards that has ‘spend me’ written all over it, but we do know what we want to do. We also have some very good players here who aren’t getting the game time they will feel they need.

“Being creative by potentially moving some of that around is what I do. Whatever decisions I make it’s because I’ve got a burning desire to be successful. I’m always trying to improve things and, if the right players come available, let me tell you we do try to get the work done to make things happen.

“We’ve already handed names to Nigel [Clibbens] and John [Nixon] for them to start the work on finding out where things stand. Some of these lads are tied to other clubs at the moment so we might need to wait to see what they do before we can make a move.”

When asked about interest in any of his players, he said: “I’ve had a few tentative enquiries from agents but I’ve seen that as it being more of a fishing trip than anything else.

“I’ve told the agents to get the managers involved to speak to me directly and then I’ll speak to them. If I think it’s merited following that conversation I’ll pass it on to the CEO, but the two managers have to be happy first of all. I have to say we aren’t anywhere close to that at the moment.”

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