Curle wants Cobblers players to maintain their competitive edge

John-Joe O'Toole is booked by referee Charles Breakspear last weekend
John-Joe O'Toole is booked by referee Charles Breakspear last weekend

Keith Curle has told his Cobblers team to carry on competing hard, despite a clutch of key players walking a disciplinary tightrope.

Sam Foley is facing almost a month on the sidelines following his red card in last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Oldham Athletic, and three other players are just a single booking away from a one-match ban.

Sam Hoskins, John-Joe O’Toole and Kevin van Veen have each bagged four cautions to put themselves on the brink of suspension ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two clash with Bournemouth, with O’Toole already suspended for Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy date with Fulham Under-21s.

The Cobblers have picked up 22 yellow cards and two reds in Curle’s seven games in charge, compared to 19 yellows and one red across the first 12 matches of the season, but the manager insists he is happy with the way his team is going about its business.

Asked if he will be having a word with his players about their on-field discipline, Curle said: “No, especially if you look at some of the cards.

“Look at JJ’s caution on Saturday. He made a committed tackle and won the ball fairly and squarely 100 per cent, and he gets booked for it.

Look at JJ’s caution on Saturday. He made a committed tackle and won the ball fairly and squarely 100 per cent, and he gets booked for it. I am not going to talk John-Joe out of tackling

Cobblers boss Keith Curle

“I am not going to talk John-Joe out of tackling, or any of the players out of tackling, and I think we have a very honest changing room and a very honest bunch of lads.

“I don’t think there is a malicious person or player in there that would deliberately go out to harm somebody.

“We are competitive, very competitive, and we will continue to play like that, and the players who step in will continue to have that competitive edge as well.

“They will have it because they will want to stay in the team, and will want to be successful.

“We don’t like giving silly cautions away for taking your shirt off, over-celebrating or showing dissent in any shape or form, but I don’t think that has been the case.

“There have been robust challenges that have shown our intent. and if I am being honest I don’t think a lot of referees would have sent Sam Foley off for his challenge last weekend.”

The Cobblers host Crewe Alexandra in Sky Bet League Two this Saturday (ko 3pm).