Keith Curle on the character and ability within the squad
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the work ethic and the determination to seek improvement in every area at his Thursday morning press conference.
Speaking first about this week’s contract agreement with striker Charlie Wyke, he said: “We saw the value of Charlie when we paid money for him to bring him into the football club in the first place. I think it was important for us to show faith in him at that point because we want to help him to progress his career to the next level.
“I think he made the right decision in staying with us because he’s enjoying his football and he’s scoring goals. That’s a good position for any aspiring young footballer to be in. Things fit well for him here and he has a platform which should help him to progress even further. I think he’s a player who will score goals at a higher level.”
“He’s had real benefit from playing beside Jabo Ibehre,” he added. “They’re able to take a bit of the workload off each other and any centre back in the division who comes up against them knows they’re in for a rough afternoon.
“We know he’s still learning his trade and he knows he is by no means the finished article. The good thing is that he’s willing to work hard to better himself and that makes our job with him that much easier.”
“The door isn’t closed on any player extending their stay at this football club,” he told us. “We’re still in that process of challenging the lads we’ve because we think there’s room for improvement with all of them.
“We’re mid-table in the second division and that in itself tells you there’s room for things to get better. There will still be additions to the squad where I think we can add something different, but there’s a fantastic work ethic inside the football group we have here at the moment.
“They’re enjoying the challenges they’re facing because they know it isn’t just about a quick five-a-side game and then a match on the Saturday. They know it’s about gaining an understanding of how we want to play and, along with that, getting the best out of every individual.”
On recruitment within the emergency loan window, he said: “All of the coaching staff have been out watching games this week as we start to finalise our thoughts on approaches we want to make.
“We made an enquiry at a game we went to watch on Saturday and we’re waiting for a response to that. The player in question is with a Premier League club but he isn’t in their first team squad at the moment.
“We’re giving the player the chance to come to us and play league games, exactly as we did with Alex Gilliead. He came here and the standard he achieved helped him to get a longer contract with Newcastle United. That’s the message we’re giving to some of the other young players – come in, show that you’re a good league player and earn a contract back at your parent club off the back of it.
“I’m not sure we’ll have anyone in before the weekend but work is ongoing and we’ll continue to try to identify those players who we feel will make us better. I haven’t had any phone calls about any of our players going out on loan so that situation hasn’t changed.”
“We got some very positive feedback from Patrick Brough's loan spell with Lincoln,” he confirmed. “Patrick came back into the building with a spring in his step, which he didn't have when he left.
“That shows you he's gone and played competitive football and he's successfully integrated himself into another team. He's developed his personality by being taken out of his comfort zone and he's came back in and showed some very positive signs.
“He's now facing the challenge of trying to get back into the squad here. Ultimately, Lincoln wanted to sign someone on a two-year deal as they saw him as being a long term project. Patrick purely went there to play some games and top up his credentials. If the right club came with the right opportunity in terms of being progressive for Patrick by him playing games at a decent level, I wouldn't have a problem with it.”
“We’re looking very good injury wise,” he explained. “Players who missed last week have responded well. Luke Joyce is back with field-based training and is potentially available for the weekend. He’s obviously desperate to play at Accrington on Tuesday, which is pleasing.
“Bastien Hery is training with us but he’s probably another week behind that, along with Tom Miller. Michael Raynes has recovered from his knock but we’re still working with Danny Grainger to get him back as quickly as possible.
“Steven Rigg is back full time with the first team. He's being typical Steven Rigg, he's chomping at the bit and he wants that opportunity. It's excellent to have somebody with his hunger in and around the group.
“Players know if they aren't on the pace Steven is doing extra to shine. What I like about Riggy is his work ethic and that’s probably what got him his chance. He's got an air of unpredictability about him, sometimes he doesn't do the norm, but he will score goals.”
“With all of the players in the squad they know we’re heading into an important phase,” he said. “I think we've got 20 games left and we're creating a challenging environment. My challenge is to exceed expectations from the start of the season.
“I'm still mindful of where the football club was when we came in but we're now comfortably placed in the division with a squad of players we can be very competitive with. We've also got room and the finances to add to the squad, which is a fantastic position to be in as a club.
“It isn't just about ability. We're trying to bring the right characters to the club in terms of people we want to work with as coaches. You've got to have that hunger because ability alone isn't enough. There are some vocal characters in the changing room but there is also a steely determination, which is what I like.”
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