Curle admits Carlisle clash was a big one for Cobblers after Crooks sale

Cobblers boss Keith Curle confessed there was added scrutiny on himself and his team ahead of today's game against Carlisle United following the recent sales of key players Kevin van Veen and Matt Crooks.

Saturday, 12th January 2019, 8:15 pm
Updated Sunday, 13th January 2019, 11:28 am
Cobblers celebrate one of Jack Bridge's two goals against Carlisle on Saturday. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

The departures of van Veen and Crooks, arguably Town’s two best players this season, allied to the team’s poor run of recent form – one win in 12 games – had generated concern among fans regarding the club’s direction, both on and off the field.

But Saturday’s impressive 3-0 victory over the in-form Cumbrians has, temporarily at least, lifted spirits and played down fears the Cobblers could get sucked into a relegation battle, though they remain nine points above the bottom two despite moving up to 16th in League Two.

The win, handed to them largely thanks to Jack Bridge’s double, has also given Curle and the club breathing space going into the final 19 days of the transfer window as fans wait to see if and how he will replace Crooks and van Veen, who left for Rotherham and Scunthorpe respectively.

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“Before the game today I spoke to my assistant and I said that the interview afterwards will potentially be my most important interview because of Kevin van Veen leaving, Matt Crooks leaving and Billy Waters also going,” admitted Curle.

“So I knew all the focus would be on who has left the building and the re-shaping and re-structuring that it’s in place but the important thing, in my mind, was what’s in the changing room and what their jobs are and getting clarity.”

Curle shed more light on the exit of Crooks whose move to Championship side Rotherham was only completed late on Friday evening, less than 24 hours before kick-off against Carlisle.

He added: “The Matt Crooks move was only finalised on Friday. It didn’t so much as come as a shock but we trained on a Thursday and the finer details, like the medical and stuff like that, were only completed the day before.

“The players were aware that Matt wasn’t going to be playing and wasn’t going to start for us. The football club have been rewarded financially and it’s a financial deal that has been accepted and it’s an opportunity to wish him well and see him further his career.

“I’m proud of the work he did here, the application he showed as a professional while he played for us and we wish him well for his career.”