Keith Curle’s rotation policy is keeping every member of Northampton’s squad ‘on their toes’, according to striker Andy Williams, as competition for places hots up.
Curle has yet to name an unchanged side during his five weeks in the job, which is partly due to injuries, but that approach is spurring the team onto new heights with five wins from their past six games in all competitions, including Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Crewe.
The two goalscorers from that game, Williams and Daniel Powell, are among several players to have fallen foul of Curle’s tendency to make changes. Despite both playing their part in Town’s 5-0 win over Macclesfield a couple of weeks ago, Williams was an unused substitute in the following match against Oldham Athletic while Powell only came on for the final few minutes.
But Williams was back in the starting line-up on Saturday and opened the scoring on 18 minutes before Powell, who again started on the bench, made an immediate impact as a late substitute, netting Town’s second eight minutes from time.
“The gaffer is keeping everyone on their toes,” said Williams. “Me and Powelly played in the 5-0 at Macclesfield but haven’t featured much since so even if we’re winning games you’re not guaranteed to start the next one.
“I’m always disappointed to come off. You want to play for as long as possible but we won the game and I scored - and I was probably more frustrated not to play last weekend.
Players know now that it’s not just what they do during the week, it’s vitally important what they do on gameday because there’ll be competition for places.Keith Curle
“I thought I did well at Macclesfield without scoring so it was frustrating not to play the next game but hopefully I put it right on Saturday and I did enough to start the next game!”
Injuries have forced Curle’s hand in some departments, especially at the back, but with players returning to fitness and the prospect of two upcoming cup fixtures, his flexible approach to both team selection and tactics is unlikely to change any time soon.
“There’s a changing room in there that wants to perform and there’s some injured players that are getting closer and closer so the competition will very quickly be there for places,” he said.
“Players know now that it’s not just what they do during the week, it’s vitally important what they do on gameday because there’ll be competition for places.
“Whether it’s this week or next week, there’ll be people who have good pedigree that want to play and need to play but at the moment the players are earning their shirts.”
From a player’s perspective, Williams added: “You’ll have to ask him for the reasons but it’s certainly working at the moment and you can see on the pitch that everyone is chasing everything down and we’re fighting so hard for our place in the team as much as we are to win the game.
“So it’s good management and long may it continue. Well, as long as I’m playing!”