Curle's warning to his players after criticising Oliver's first-half display at Derby

Players reminded not to rest on their laurels

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 11:54 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 12:02 pm
Vadaine Oliver and Keith Curle

Striker Vadaine Oliver was hooked at half-time of Tuesday's FA Cup replay against Derby County because manager Keith Curle was disappointed with his first-half showing.

The 28-year-old has become a key figure for the Cobblers in their rise up the League Two table, starting the last 10 games in all competitions and acting as the team's focal point in attack.

But he was well contained by Derby's defence during the first-half of Tuesday's FA Cup fourth round tie at Pride Park and for that reason made way for Matty Warburton at the break.

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Curle confirmed afterwards that there was no fitness issue with Oliver and the move was instead a tactical one, which should act as a reminder to his players that they cannot rest on their laurels.

"There was no problem," said Curle. "He wasn't winning his headers and he wasn't being a focal point for us.

"We've got a very, very competitive squad now and if players don't do what I need them to do, I will make a change.

"He was playing against Championship centre-backs and we weren't winning first contact so we needed to try and open the door another way.

"We've got a very competitive squad and give it another two or three weeks when the players who have been sidelined come back in, it will be more competitive.

"The players know the demands I put on them. When they do what I need them to do, they will stay in the team. When they don't, somebody else will come on and do what needs to be done."