Keith Curle ahead of the Wycombe away gameManager Keith Curle spoke to us about what he thinks will be another tough game at Wycombe at his Thursday afternoon press conference.
“As I said on Tuesday, the players were smarting after last Saturday’s result because they didn’t enjoy it,” he said. “We had to create the mindset and environment where they felt they could go out against Doncaster and put it right.
“The response on Monday morning was excellent and you could sense the positivity in the mental attitude at the pre-match meal on Tuesday. The lads knew what they needed to do to create the opportunity to go and win the game and they all bought into it.
“They applied themselves for the full 90 minutes and you could probably say there was a sense of relief in the dressing room afterwards because they needed that result.”
“Our focus now is completely on putting on another good performance against Wycombe on Saturday because that’s our next opportunity to get three points,” he commented. “It’s vitally important for us to keep the momentum up and I know the players will go out there to do that for us.
“Let’s be honest, a few people will have left Brunton Park last Saturday not in very good moods. They needed Tuesday to happen as much as anyone. The crowd who turned up to watch us were fantastic, bearing in mind it was Valentine’s Day, so there can’t be too many romantics in Carlisle!”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s fixture, he said: “They’ll be dangerous opponents because they’re a wounded animal. They haven’t had results go their way recently and they’ve said openly that has been because they haven’t been playing at the top of their game.
“I’m sure they’ll be looking to get out of that mindset and to keep their players buying into what they’re trying to do. Gareth [Ainsworth] will be doing that because he’s been through a situation very similar to ours. He’s had a run of injuries to key players and it does make a difference.
“Part and parcel of our jobs as managers is to get the best out of what you’ve got. It’s very congested in the top half of the division and I think that’s excellent. For us it’s about looking up to see if we can catch the teams above us. If we keep taking care of our business we’ll get closer to them.
“We’re getting nearer to the business end of the season now and people do start staring at the league table and wishing for results to come and for games to disappear. We know there are going to be a lot of twists and turns and I think it will go all the way for everyone. That’s testament to all of the managers and players who are in the top half of the table.”
On the type of game he expects it to be, he said: “It will be two very competitive teams doing what they can to win the game. We certainly won’t take a backward step because we want to win it.
“We know what to expect from them and we’ll make sure our players know the strengths which Wycombe have got. There’s no way we can think we have a divine right to beat Wycombe just because we beat the league leaders. We’ll have to earn it every bit as much as we did a few days ago.
“Against Doncaster, we had to make it a physical encounter because we thought that would suit us better than it would suit them. Wycombe will relish a physical challenge but we can match it, as well as play a bit of football along the way.
“They’ll try to throw the ball at us from every angle and they will look to be in our box as much as possible. We’ll need to make sure we’re in contention for first contact and that we do as much as we can around their penalty area as well.”
On the back injury sustained by Max Crocombe earlier in the week, he said: “Max is suffering from a back spasm which started on Monday. It’s still reacting now, but it’s gradually getting better. With the position he plays he obviously has to throw himself around quite a lot, so he was always going to be at risk of it going back into spasm.
“He’ll need another four or five days for it to settle down fully before he can rejoin training. The other two missing at the moment are Danny Grainger and Jason Kennedy, otherwise we have a clean bill of health.”
One of many good performances on Tuesday night came from central defender Shaun Brisley who came close to scooping the man of the match award following a very determined display.
“I was very pleased with his approach,” Curle said. “It was a test of character for him because he had a slap in the face as an individual when I left him out of the team three or four weeks ago, and I told him he was free to find employment elsewhere, if it was suitable for all parties.
“There was an open-ended challenge there because I told him that, in my opinion, his career hadn’t ended here. There was room for him to move back into my plans, but he needed to change.
“I have to say, credit to him, because he came in and put a performance on which we were all more than happy with. That shows the honesty of the lad because when I did put him on the list he admitted that his level of performance was not where he wanted it to be. I appreciate that level of honesty.”
And on the player he met on Wednesday, with a view to a possible deal, he said: “We had the meeting but we now know we can’t afford him. To be honest I don’t think we could have afforded him even if we’d been a first division club, so that one has gone.”