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"Competition for places is vital"

By Ian Appleyard | 31st January 2019

Manager Steve Watson has confirmed that two more new additions are in the pipeline but says the door remains open for the club's existing players to safeguard their futures.

Watson, speaking ahead of Saturday's league game at Alfreton Town, has signed three new players since taking over as City manager three weeks ago.

Midfielders Paddy McLaughlin and Scott Burgess and defender Tom Bradbury all started last weekend's game against leaders Chorley but a fourth new addition could be in place before the Alfreton game.

"I am hopeful that something will drop later today (Thursday) or early tomorrow and we will have another body available for the weekend," said Watson.

"Probably after Saturday's game, I am hoping something will drop before Tuesday night's game. That will be the five loans replaced and (give us) more options.

"Competition for places is vital - it is the only way you can be successful - players pushing each other every day, policing themselves in training, and raising the standards every day," he explained.

"Players that I don't think are going to buy into it - or players who think that they are 'hard done by' - they are the players you will probably see looking to get away. There have been a few enquiries. We have got some good players.

"I am getting a rough idea now of who I think I can move forward with," he added. "There are players that we have here who are not showing an interest to leave - but who have been 'quite open' to it and they think their future may lie elsewhere.

"The thing about this league - and the league above - is that most players are only contracted until the end of the season - so you do see players panicking about what's going to happen next season.

"The only way, in my opinion, is to take your future into your own hands," he stressed. "Be that good that it is impossible for me NOT to offer you a new contract or be that good that is impossible for me NOT to play you. That is their challenge as players. It is simple."

Defender Tom Allan, who is currently on loan at Alfreton, is ineligible for Saturday's game and cannot be recalled before the end of the season.

Commenting on Allan's situation, Watson said: "You don't know where the future might lie for Tom. He might be someone who really impresses us when I get a chance to see him play. He might have a future here. You can't rule anything out.

"While they are officially our players, I do think it's worthwhile having players train with us. It keeps them full-time as well. But obviously not this week!"

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Watson says defensive solidity will be the 'catalyst' to success and spotted signs of improvement in last week's performance against Chorley.

"We still need to click into gear as a team and a squad. There are lots of things that I am changing as I am going and the proof of the pudding will be when the results start to come and we want that as quickly as possible," he said.

"The games so far have given me a really good yardstick of what we have got. I think I need to change the mentality as much as anything and try to get a positive winning mentality back into people's mindsets.

"Five of the seven goals we have conceded have been balls in and around the box. It goes without saying that we need to take responsibility for that as a group and as individuals. We have got to take ownership of the situation, attack the ball, take responsibility, not waiting, these are all messages that we are trying to drum into them.

"I saw a definite improvement against Chorley as in chances created, energy, positivity, and playing in their half. These are the things I need to press further. The catalyst to everything is to be solid at the back. You can be solid at the back and positive going forward. There is no reason you can't do both as long as you are well-drilled and people buy into it. All the goals have been avoidable or mistakes. That gives me hope. We are not being 'carved open' - we just need to cut out the sloppiness."

Watson confirmed that midfielder Simon Heslop (knee) remains sidelined but could be back next week.

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