Keith Curle on the growing competition for places and recruitment
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us this week about the current run of form and the growing competition for places within the group.
“We've been able to give the players who have played the majority of the games a couple of days off during the early part of the week, which I think was important,” he said. “The level of commitment from them has been fantastic because, these days, you can't just jump in the car and travel.
“The players have been staying up here and doing it right and I think we're getting the rewards for that commitment in our results. That does mean they're spending a lot of time away from their families, so the early part of this week was a good opportunity to give them some time back at home.”
“We’ll always look after the players and, as I say, they’ve earned the right to get a few pats on the back,” he continued. “There’s still more to come, but we've deserved to win the games that we've drawn, which is pleasing. The only draw that we'd settle with was Portsmouth after going down to ten men after 30 minutes.
“I think if you ask Shaun Derry at Cambridge whether he was happy with a draw he would be. Gary Johnson at Cheltenham would have been happy with the draw. Lastly John Coleman at Accrington, I spoke to him after the game and he said for a 30-minute period in the first half they couldn't get near us, so they were more than happy with the draw.
“Within the performances and the results we're happy because we're going in the right direction. We know that those draws will get turned into wins. If we carry on playing like we are we’ll continue to create chances and I think we've got goals in the team.”
“The three strikers we've got all scored 15 goals or more last season,” he told us. “We'd like to get more goals from midfield. Reggie has got a couple and Nicky Adams opened his account last week as well, as Mike Jones at Derby.
“There are going to be mass celebrations when Luke Joyce scores his first goal! He was very close against Accrington but the pleasing thing for myself is that we're seeing Luke in the opposition's six yard box. We've been working on that with him, and the rest of the team as a group.
“Luke is a great example of a player who knows that the players we've signed are here to challenge him - likewise Jason Kennedy. I think that shows how an experienced player rises to face challenges like that.
“We're trying to create that competitive edge at the football club which I don't think was here previously. We've got players who aren't in the starting 11, who are all good players, and they need to respond to that challenge and put in performances in training and reserve games that let me know they're ready to take their opportunity. Getting in the team is an achievement in itself - putting in a performance that merits you staying in the team is the secondary challenge.”
Looking back at Monday’s reserve game against Queen of the South – a chance for players to show the manager they are ready – he said: “There are some good professionals here who needed that game on Monday. A lot of them will have played a lot of games last season, but they haven't been given their opportunity yet.
“The players who have got the shirts at the moment are earning the right to keep it. Long may that continue because it means we're getting points. Within that, if I think there's an opportunity to use someone else within the squad, I will.”
“Shaun Brisley came off in the reserve game on Monday but he's fine,” he confirmed. “It was something to do with a blood vessel in his leg which had swollen. It was a precaution to take him off. He's had the fluid taken out of it so he's fit and available.
“Nathan Tyson played but he's since been offered an opportunity with a Scottish Premier League side which he's exploring with his agent. We'll wait to find out if the offer is acceptable to Nathan. If not we'd like to have an extended look at him.
“He came in, scored a goal, had another couple of opportunities and there are things in his game that I like. The door isn't shut but we're well aware that Nathan has got a family who he has to look after and he needs to be at a football club which suits him.
“Going forward, if the right striker is available we’ll look at them, but we've got lots of attack-minded options. There's enough in the team now to win us games. There are players out there who are available, and we're looking but we aren't desperate. We aren't going to drag people in to make the numbers up. We've got a good squad which is deliberately smaller than we had last season.
“There are other who were out of contract when the window closed and that's where we're shopping at the moment. It's not like a jumble sale, but it isn't the open market that it was before the window closed. If the right players are available we’re in a position to be able to bring people in.”
On the availability of forward Reuben Reid, he said: “Reuben is a player I know. He's a proven striker at this level and I signed him on loan when I was at Torquay. I need to do some background checks to see where he's at mentally and physically because he's had a long period of time without playing.
“We are actively looking and Lee Dykes hasn't been in for the last couple of days, because he's been holding talks with people and doing background checks. The recruitment department is always working and sometimes you need to travel.”
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