Defender Gary Liddle showed his versatility once again on Saturday as he carried out a number of roles when he put a full game under his belt in United’s latest friendly against Blyth Spartans.
Speaking first about the goal which put United two up on the day, he said: “You probably won’t see too many of them, I won’t lie! I played at right back in the second half which was a bit different to what I was doing in the first half, and also a bit different to what I’m used to.
“The manager likes his full backs to get forward and I don’t mind that. I don’t think I’ll ever go burning past people and blazing on, or anything like that, but I found myself in the right area and that was good. When that happens I’m confident I can finish, and thankfully it went in.
“It was one of those chances where I had to settle myself down and take a touch. It was a bit of a rash clearance from their defender really and it fell right to me. I had a quick touch, it bounced up nicely and I was able to volley it into the bottom corner. There’s a bit of technique needed in those situations and I found myself on the right side of it.
“As far as the positions I played are concerned I’m pretty comfortable playing anywhere really. The manager knows that about me from my time at Notts County. I prefer it in the centre at the back, in either a two or a three, but I can switch to right back if it’s needed.”
Liddle and fellow defender Tom Parkes were the first members of the squad to register a full 90 minutes this summer and he admitted that it had felt good to play the complete game.
“There are a few aches and pains but I think that’s to be expected,” he commented. “There’s nothing to worry about with that even though I’ll probably be a bit stiff in the morning. Mind you, that isn’t unusual for me either at the grand old age of 31.
“I’m the oldest in the squad now and the lads haven’t been shy in reminding me of that. I’m just hoping the manager brings someone older in to stop all that. Overall I’m thrilled to get the 90 minutes because it’s a good build up to another tough week next week.
And more importantly, from a defensive point of view, it was a fourth clean sheet from four pre-season fixtures so far.
Clean sheets are the most important thing of all as far as I’m concerned ...
“Clean sheets are the most important thing of all as far as I’m concerned,” he insisted. “I keep telling the lads that before every game because if we can carry on the good habits we’re seeing now then it will be brilliant to take it into the new season.
“Scoring goals ourselves and stopping the opposition from scoring will help confidence to grow and I think that’s vital. The new lads have settled in great and, as we expect now, the manager does his research and he just doesn’t bring bad characters in.
“We have lads who are going to fight for the cause and that’s why they’re accepted so easily. All signs are good at the moment and we’re keeping people fit as we head towards the new season.
“It means we have really healthy competition and that’s something we were probably short of towards the end of last season. We lost some key players which shook us a little bit and we came up short in the end. We have some real quality this season and I think we’ll be giving it another really good shot.”
Today sees the squad return to Cassius Camps for a third consecutive summer and he admitted that there are a few nerves ahead of finding out exactly what it is he’s about to go through.
“I am looking forward to it and I’m not looking forward to it, if you know what I mean,” he said. “I’ve never been to one of these camps before and the lads who’ve done it previously have spoken about how hard it is.
“We’re meeting early on Monday to get down there and, like I say, we’re looking forward to it on the one hand and on the other hand we aren’t. It’s going to be a tough week but we’ll put everything into it, as we always do.”
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