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Interviews

INTERVIEW: I think it's a really good mix

Defender Rod McDonald on settling and maintaining standards

4 September 2020

Defender Rod McDonald made his debut for the Blues on Tuesday night in the EFL Trophy group meeting with Fleetwood Town.

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Having joined the club early in August, when he became the second of 13 new arrivals, he spoke to the press on Thursday morning about how he’s found his first month with Cumbrians.

Speaking first about the midweek game, he said: “I thought we did well. We tried to do what the gaffer wanted us to do and obviously we were up against a good League One team.

“With the way we played I think it’ll all come good as we get into the season. Personally it was just nice to get through the 90 minutes and build up my fitness even more. I enjoyed it, and I thought I did ok.

“Part of what we’re doing at the moment is about building relationships, and in defence with Aaron [Hayden] I think we clicked from the moment we started playing together. We know our strengths and our weaknesses now and I think we’ve got aspects that complement each other.

“He’s great to play beside. I was similar to Aaron about five years ago when I was coming through at Northampton. I had Zander Diamond looking after me and advising me, and I hope I can help Aaron just as much as I’ve been helped.

“To be fair, it may be that he lacks experience but the guy doesn’t shut up next to me, which is excellent. He keeps me on my toes by doing that.”

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On how the squad is going through the settling in process, he commented: “I think it’s a really good mix. We’ve got a lot of young hungry lads and a few older heads like Dean Furman and Lewi Alessandra who have been there and done it. Hopefully it will all come together for us.

“All of the lads really get on and there’s a fun atmosphere, the gaffer has made it that way. We’re all enjoying training and being around each other, with  couple of jokers who keep things interesting. I’ve settled really well and from the first week I feel like I’ve been here for quite a bit, which is strange, but I’m really enjoying my time here.

“Overall I think it’s going well. Everybody has bought into what the gaffer wants. We’ve got a lot of new lads so it will take a bit of time, but I think we’re getting there.

“We’ve all got our own ambitions but I think we’ve got to be looking to push up the table and put pressure on the teams at the top. We need to be capable of doing that here.

“I think every player wants to get promoted whatever league they play in. If you don’t think like that, what’s the point? You’re just wasting your time if you don’t want that. It’s what I want from this season.”

“To do that we’ve got to be consistent,” he said. “I think it’s also important that if we do lose a game or two, we can’t worry about it. Especially this season, the games are going to come around quickly, so a lot can change in a week. 

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“We’ve got to be putting pressure on the top half of the table and try and push up as high as we can. My personal ambitions are the same as the manager’s, we just want to be as high up the table as we can.

“The lads came in after the game on Tuesday night and it was like we’d lost the final which is nice to see. We’ve got high standards straight away and I think that’s important.

“As experienced players we want to help maintain those standards, but even the young lads had their say on Tuesday, which is really encouraging. Nobody was happy to lose and everyone is happy to say what’s on their mind.”

This weekend takes the central defender back to the club where he first made tentative steps in league football, before dropping down into the non-league circuit before making his way back into the professional game.

“It’s an important game and it’s a cup game, so we all want to win it,” he told us. “With that competition if you win a couple of games you end up playing some really big teams, which is what we all want.

“Saturday will be the first time we’ve played a League Two team so we’ll be looking at ourselves and seeing where we’re at. It will be a good time to get a good result.

“Obviously my first professional club was Oldham, so it’s been quite a journey. I had to drop into non-league before getting back into the football league, and everybody always thinks it’s been easy for a professional footballer.

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“It just isn’t sometimes, you’ve got to work hard and there are a lot of good lads out there in non-league who don’t make it. It’s a tough but good learning curve if you do come through.

“I didn’t really get many games under Dickov at Oldham. I was on the bench a few times and then I just went out on loan to Nantwich. That was when I ended up signing for Colwyn Bay.

“Dropping out of the league wasn’t an easy decision but I had a talk with my mum and dad at the time and they asked me if I wanted to go and sit on the bench again at another club, or if it was more important for me to be playing football. I chose to play games.

“Doing it probably taught me a lot about how to cope mentally, and it made me become a better defender. I wasn’t the strongest of lads at the age of 18 or 19 so I had to learn how to be clever around bigger players.

“It all came good for me, and I had some good spells at the likes of Northampton, Coventry and Wimbledon, and hopefully we’ll see some success here at Carlisle as well.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Rod McDonald on iFollow United now.

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