Keith Curle with some Friday FA Cup thoughtsManager Keith Curle admitted today that the magic of the FA Cup is still well and truly alive as far as he and his squad are concerned as they prepare for the trip to St Albans on Sunday.
“I still get excited by the FA Cup and that’s the same for our players as well,” he said. “We’ve seen in recent seasons that good cup runs can lift everybody and there are obviously good financial implications from it as well. More importantly there’s the boost it brings to the city and everybody involved with the club.
“The FA Cup can become a really enjoyable distraction if you go out and perform as well as you can in every game. I have some very good memories of the competition because it can throw up unusual situations. It always adds an edge when you’re drawn against lower league opposition but that’s the beauty of the cup.”
“Let’s make no mistake about it, this will be seen as a kind of cup final for St Albans,” he commented. “Their intensity levels will be heightened because they’re playing against a team which is doing well from a couple of divisions above. By the very nature they’ll raise their game.
“They will see it as a very big game because it’s an opportunity for them to give a good account of themselves. It’s definitely a game for us to look forward to and we have to treat it as one where we want to get it right so that we can progress in this competition.”
“The key for us is to take our league form into the competition,” he said. “If we can do that we should have a good chance of going through. We know we’ll be favourites because of how our season is going and that brings a level of pressure and expectancy.
“It was the same for us at Welling last season, so all you can do is get out there and perform. If we maintain our good habits and standards we’ll be fine. Thinking about Welling, the reception we got from them was very friendly and welcoming, and they gave a good account of themselves on the day.
“We gave a good performance on the day so we’ll go to Clarence Park with exactly the same mindset. We’ll be feeling confident, but there’s no way we’ll be arrogant.”
On team selection, he said: “I’ll pick the team based on what we think the strengths and weaknesses of St Albans will be. If players who haven’t been having game time recently are selected we already know they’re very capable and that they’ll do a very good job.
“I don’t think it will come down to being a case of resting anybody because we have a very capable squad. I knew a player who was rested for just the one game once and it ended up that he didn’t play for the next three-and-a-half months.
“That’s because the player who took his place did really well and the team went on a run of games of getting positive results. That can happen in football and that’s why I know every member of the squad will want to be involved. I would say to any footballer that if they’re told they’re being rested, don’t accept it – I know I wouldn’t.”
On the injury situation with Macaulay Gillesphey and Tom Miller, he said: “Tom is back and training with us, as is Macaulay. We’ve also been assured that the stitches in Tom’s forehead will be taken out prior to the game, so that’s good news.
“David Atkinson is working well and we expect him to be back and training on grass to the middle or the end of next week. We still have Kevin Wright and Alexander McQueen training with us and we’re getting a little bit closer to a decision on them.
“We had to cancel the bounce game we had arranged for Tuesday against Gateshead. We obviously had a few injuries earlier in the week and we didn’t want to get stretched for the weekend cup game. That means both lads will be with us for another short spell. That gives them even more time to impress, which can only be a good thing.”