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Manager preview: Grainger on New Year’s Day trip

First team manager Danny Grainger says Reds will approach the visit to Pontefract Collieries like any other game.

Pontefract are the only team who can catch Reds if both teams won their remaining games, due to the Yorkshire sides five games in-hand.

Going into 2020, Grainger firstly assessed the squad ahead the trip.

“We’re doing alright. Bar Ash Kelly, we haven’t got any injuries,” revealed the boss.

“Jordan Little’s away for the match so I’ll drop into the squad and obviously, we’re getting Brad Carroll back to full fitness as well.”

The reverse fixture was played on August Bank Holiday Monday, as Reds ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a Scott Allison double.

Grainger is aware of the magnitude of the fixture but is assured of the approach his team will take.

“Obviously, when you look at the league table and see that they’re the only team who can pass us now, it looks a big game.”

“All we’re gonna go down there and we’ll do the same as we’ve approached every other game.

“We’ll try to put our authority on the game and play the way we can, and hopefully get the result we deserve.”

Reds are the pacesetters for the North West division but have a tough run ahead, facing three of the league’s top seven teams in the next four games.

With that in mind, the manager knows how that could affect our opposition’s approaches for the remainder of the campaign.

“When you’re five points clear, teams are going to have to come and beat you,” he explained.

“They’ve got to come out and I think that’ll suit us down to a tee.”

“When you look at the first half of the season, some teams have tried to sit behind the ball and wait for us a make a mistake but now it becomes a situation where they’ll have to come out.”

“If we can play our game the right way, we can be successful in the second half of the season.”

The clash in Yorkshire, our second-longest journey of the term behind Pickering Town, will also mark the beginning of January.

The month is often a hotbed for transfers, and despite nothing imminent, the boss has hinted at possible arrivals in the coming weeks.

“With losing Gaz, having Luke Ivison away at Penrith and Taylor [Charters] back at Carlisle – as well as Ash not looking good for the foreseeable future – we’re trying to see.”

“We’ve got a couple in the pipeline but there’s nothing that’s concrete yet and we’re just putting irons in fires to see if there’s anything there.”

“I won’t bother signing people for the sake of it, I’d rather put one of our youngsters in the squad and give him the opportunity.”

“If anything pops up in the January period, we’ll go and do it, but I’ll not be rushing into anything that I don’t need to do.”

Kick-off on New Year’s Day at Beechnut Lane is 3pm. Reds then host Trafford at Borough Park on Saturday 4th January.

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