Holmes edging closer to first start as Curle explains Lines' recent absence

Ricky Holmes is wrestled to the ground.Ricky Holmes is wrestled to the ground.
Ricky Holmes is wrestled to the ground.
Midfielder has barely featured this season

Chris Lines' recent absence from Northampton's matchday squads has been due to a 'personal matter', according to manager Keith Curle.

The 34-year-old central midfielder has started just one game this season, the 5-0 win over Southampton U21s in the EFL Trophy. He hasn't even made the squad for any of the past eight fixtures, including Monday's FA Cup tie when Curle rung the changes.

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Meanwhile, Ricky Holmes is edging closer to a first start since his return to the club. The 33-year-old came on against both MK Dons and Oxford City and whilst Saturday's visit of Accrington Stanley may be too soon, he is making good progress following nearly two years out of the game.

"Chris has had a personal matter that has taken him out of the firing line and it's something that is being dealt with internally," said Curle.

"On Ricky, he is building up his match time. It was good to be able to get him on the pitch on Monday and give him another 20 minutes and he's trained well this week."

Having had a few days to digest and reflect on Monday's shock defeat to Oxford, Curle was whether or not his views on Town's performance have changed.

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"My thoughts are still exactly the same as they were after the game," he replied. "It wasn't good enough.

"I will defend my players because that's part of my job but I can assure everybody that the players know that the performance wasn't good enough, individually and collectively.

"Some players have wanted reasons for why they haven't had a lot of game-time this season and that was a great opportunity for them to play, but not enough of them performed to a level that will change my opinion of why they're not getting the game time that they want."