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MANAGER: We're able to tell players they'll get an opportunity

16 March 2017

Keith Curle with the latest on key injuries and potential signings

United manager Keith Curle gave us an update on the potential arrival of more new faces at his Thursday afternoon press conference.

“We’re now just waiting for international clearance to be confirmed and the player we spoke about the other day will be completed,” he said. “That’s good news for us, and for him. He isn’t a household name but he’s a player who has something a little bit different.

“He’s brave, aggressive and he can make himself known on the ball. He’ll bring more firepower and hopefully he’s one who can come in and have an impact on the squad.”

“As well as that, we might have another one to do who we’ve been looking at,” he continued. “We’ll talk about that and we’ll see if we want to progress it. We’re trying to make sure we’ve got a very competitive squad as we get towards the end of the season.

“There are lads signed recently who have been individuals we’ve been able to get a good look at, and others are now coming in because word has spread about what we’re looking for. Players who have been competing in the Indian Super League are coming back so there are still people out there who can add skill sets to the group. It’s an ongoing process even though there are only nine games to go.

“We’re able to tell players at the moment that they’re going to get an opportunity, because of certain scenarios we face, for them to get closer to the first team. That can make us an attractive prospect.”

On the signings of James Hooper and Joe Ward, he said: “They are projects for us to work with but they’re going to get an opportunity to express themselves. They’re both very competitive individuals with real hunger and ability.

“Where this goes after the term of this initial contract is largely down to them and how they perform. The door is open so, like I say, it’s down to what they do.

“We saw a little bit of what James can do on Tuesday night and his challenge is to produce more. Joe is a tenacious forward-thinking midfield player who likes to pass the ball forward. He’s tenacious in his approach and likes to get on the ball.”

Speaking about the injury to midfielder Mike Jones, he told us: “That’s a difficult one because he’s gone from having a scan to needing a surgeon’s opinion. The surgeon has decided he’s going to carry out an exploratory operation to find out the exact extent of the injury.

“Scans aren’t always conclusive so the football club has taken the best option for the player. That operation needs to be done so it looks like he will be out for the remainder of the season.”

“With Jason Kennedy, we’re more than hopeful that he’ll be back before the end of the season,” he confirmed. “He’s been working extremely hard and it’s pleasing as a manager to see these lads coming back and getting out on the grass as soon as they possibly can. You can’t rush it because what you want is for them to stay available once you’ve got them back.

“Michael Raynes is close and he’s had a little bit of football training. We’ll see how he reacts to training on Friday before we decide on him for the weekend.”

And on the news that former-Blue Joe Thompson, currently at Rochdale, had received confirmation that he has cancer for a second time, he said: “I found out about that today when Michael Raynes and Nicky Adams told me about it.

“There’s a process which Joe will have to go through so that he can win his battle again. We wish him well as a football club because he is a person we all got on with really well. He’s a strong character and he’ll deal with this in his usual very dignified and determined way.”

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