Manager Keith Curle spoke to us this weekend about the first four friendly fixtures and how they had fitted in to the schedule as the squad gets ready for the start of the season in just three weeks’ time.
“The friendlies are designed to help us to build our pre-season programme up so that the lads are adding match sharpness and fitness to the other work we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve structured our sessions this year so that we’ve been working with the ball every day.
“I’ve said it a number of times but the best way to get fit for football is to play football. That has very much been our approach and we’ll see the benefit of doing that in the long run.
“The local friendly games were a chance for everyone to get 45 minutes under their belt in each game against good opposition. We enjoy those games because it gives our fans the chance to see the new players and the way we’re looking to play for the first time without having to travel too far.
“It’s also an opportunity for us to build more relationships which will hopefully be beneficial for everybody. Our day at Carlisle City was fantastic and we think there is scope for us to do more with them. I hope that game will become a regular feature and that the clubs can work together in other ways.”
“We were able to have some very good conversations with Penrith when we were down there,” he added. “The clubs get on well anyway but there’s a chance that our FA Youth Cup games could be played there this season.
“There are still some elements of that to discuss but I think that would be great for us, because our lads would get to play at a nice stadium, and it would give Penrith some different fixtures to host in what is a high profile competition.”
“Things are stepping up now with the games against Blyth, Halifax and Blackburn providing us with a gradual increase in tempo towards that first game against Swindon,” he told us. “We had two players get a full 90 minutes on Saturday [Gary Liddle and Tom Parkes] and a crop of others got 60 minutes or more.
This coming week is about team building and more hard work ...
“Mike Jones came back and that was important for him. We were able to try different things in each of the four games we’ve played so far and the players have enjoyed it. This coming week is about team building and more hard work, with two days at Cassius Camps followed by the rest of the week away at Mottram Hall.
“That will be rounded off with a good game at Halifax and I know the lads are looking forward to all of it. They’re already coming together well and the new places have integrated quickly into the group. Everyone knows we’re going for a smaller squad this season but within that we’re making sure we have the quality we need.”
With the club’s bid for Barrow striker Richie Bennett common knowledge he hinted that it was sometimes the best policy not to place all of your eggs in one basket.
“We’re always on the look out for good players,” he said. “What we do is identify people who we think will add attributes and skill sets to what we have within the building and then, if everything is right, we move to bring them in.
“What you can then find is that if the other club’s valuation of that player is different to yours then it may be the case that things can’t be done. You will never say never, but you also have to be ready to look elsewhere.”
“We do have areas where we want to add dynamics but we’re also happy with what we’re working with at the moment,” he concluded. “We’ll keep looking and if we can get the right character we’ll speak to the club and see if we can make it work.”