Manager Keith Curle spoke to us ahead of Saturday’s much anticipated return to Brunton Park for the home game against York City.
“I think it’ll be a game where if we give York one ounce of disrespect they will come back and bite us,” he said. “We know that because we were two up when we played them earlier in the season and we looked quite comfortable.
“We made a couple of elementary mistakes and they went down to ten men. We should have killed the game off, but we didn’t, and we were made to pay the price. I have to say they looked the more likely team to win it when they had a man sent off, so that was a learning curve for us. Hopefully we’ve moved on from that and we’ve become better at killing teams off.
“Having said that, there have been other games where we’ve conceded needless goals. We don’t shy away from people making mistakes and we don’t fear mistakes we’ve made. People make decisions which are wrong but that’s the beauty of football. All you can do is learn from it.”
“I know what will be going through the York manager’s mind and he will have his players raring to go,” he added. “It’s an opportunity for them to get three points they very much need. If we take anything for granted we’ll be giving them a chance to take the points. We’ve got to make sure we compete and then go and play. It’s another game that’s a challenge and it’s one we need to face head on.
“We need to make sure we perform and do the things we're good at. I'm happy with where we are and I'm happy to say that, as a unit, we have some very strong players. I've got a very fit and eager group who want to go and play. They're very committed individuals who won't take a backward step. There are no players in there who need a rest because the training has been modified to suit them and they’re ready to go.”
“We won't feel any extra pressure tomorrow,” he insisted. “All any professional footballer wants is to win games. I've just spoken to the players and we all know and understand the position York are in. We were in the same situation last year.
“We need to be very respectful because they're professionals and they’re fighting for their lives. They will give everything for their football club and we need to match that. We have a slight advantage in that we’ve trained on the new pitch.
“I have to say it does feel different. There are certain things which can catch you out, potentially, and it wouldn’t surprise me if York didn’t get here a little bit early to do a longer warm up on it. Our players will be less hesitant because they’ve been on there a fair bit.
“There are some unusual bounces and things you don’t expect, but it’s no different to the pitch we played on against Yeovil. That showed us we were able to adapt comfortably within a tight timeframe and that won’t change.
“There is a sense of occasion but we have to embrace that as much as we can. We want people to be here with smiles on their faces and, ultimately, we want them to leave with a bigger smile on their face. I know what our supporters want. They want us to win games of football.”
On player availability, he said: “We do have a few knocks, bumps and bruises, and a couple of people who have needed injections, but they’re all fit and firing. I know we’ll have a strong and competitive team out there who will try to get us the points.
“Luke [Joyce] will be missing and he knew as soon as he’d made the tackle that he’d potentially given up the advantage we’d gained from their lad being sent off. I’ll never stop him from tackling though because he’s a committed and dogged performer for us.
“That’s why he’s at this football club. He has great ability on the ball and if you were to take that tenacity away you’d take something away from his game. It’s a shame for him - but as one door closes another one opens.
“I saw the queue around the car park for Everton tickets today and that’s pleasing to see,” he said. “We trained on the back pitch and the queues were right the way round to where we were. Obviously I would like the queue to go down quicker, but we don’t have an army of staff and the people behind the scenes have done an unbelievable amount of work to get people sorted and through.
“I like seeing this amount of people looking to buy tickets because it means we’re doing something right. They’ve come in and seen players give a very good account of themselves and they have responded to what we’re trying to achieve.”
And on January transfer window activity, he said: “I’ve had two conversations with agents regarding the availability of Gary Dicker and Troy Archibald-Henville. I don’t think either will have suited the players and financially it wouldn’t have suited the football club.
“Those enquiries were stopped at source. I know in my mind the lads will not want to drop down to the Conference. I respect the interest shown in them but I don’t think it needed to be taken to the players. They are well above Conference level.”
“We obviously made an offer for Gary Liddle and they turned it down. They’re very close to a valuation where I would be prepared to take the jump.
“He is a player I admire but ultimately he’s a Bradford City player. Until they say we can speak to the player, that's the situation. He's a player we've identified as someone who can add to us as a squad going forward. I've worked with him before so I know his character.
“The way I do this is to identify players and give John [Nixon] the valuation based on what I think he is worth to us. Then it's down to John to do the negotiations. If Bradford's valuation exceeds ours then unfortunately we can't do business. Gary is a player we know is out of contract at the end of the season so that might be the right time to revisit it.
“We've got two more players in the wings we think we have a real chance with. It's an ongoing process which gets highlighted because of the transfer window, but we’re always striving to improve. We can't stand still and think we're good enough when we're a League Two football club. We will try to progress the enquiries we’ve made because, as I say, these two players are lads I think will improve us.”
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