Players given a 'clean slate' by Curle after three months off

Callum Morton was in fine form when the season was suspended in March.Callum Morton was in fine form when the season was suspended in March.
Callum Morton was in fine form when the season was suspended in March.
Positions up for grabs for Cheltenham clash

Cobblers players have been given a 'clean slate' by manager Keith Curle following three months without a game as his squad battle it out for a place in the team for next week's play-off clash with Cheltenham Town.

The play-offs are typically played straight after the end of the regular season when managers would have a clearer idea of their best XIs and which players are in good form.

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But the impact of coronavirus means the Cobblers will have gone over three months without a competitive fixture by the time Cheltenham visit the PTS next Thursday evening, presenting an opportunity for every player to push their case for a place in the team.

"It's a clean slate for everyone," said Curle. "We've got 24 players in training and they make up our first-team squad and the important thing for us is getting all of those players on the same page.

"That's what we've been working on. We have two players for every position and it's about making sure that the fundamentals are in place.

"There's a new format for the amount of subs that are allowed on the day so they've all got to be ready and on the same page, even more so because of how we play.

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"I keep saying it but we're not going to change the way we play. We're going to get the ball forward, we're going to get people around the ball, we're going to put quality balls into the box and we're going to get numbers in the box.

"It's very simple but it can be very effective if we do it right."

While Curle has only three weeks to get his players up to full speed before they're thrust into battle, he says the club's handling of the situation has been a huge help.

He added: "We've had a lot of meetings with the medical department to work it all out but it's been a very smooth transition because of the transparency and the lines of communication that we have at the club.

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"James (Whiting) and Nick Ancel, the CEO and the secretary, have gone through the 52-page document with a fine-tooth comb and they've been able to relay that to me and let me know what's required from the footballing department.

"That helps a lot because my judgement isn't clouded by having to sit down and read through documents. It's important but it's not relevant to my day-to-day work within the environment with the players.

"That's been very good and so has having support and clarity from the top of the club whereby we're all engaged and all involved. The medical department has also been excellent in making that run smoothly.

"There still might be little hiccups along the way but we have an environment and relationships in place where if a player isn't sure about something, they can ask and get clarity."