Danny Grainger’s thoughts on the upcoming friendlies

With a pre-season friendly double-header on the horizon this Saturday and next Tuesday, first team manager Danny Grainger is anticipating two contrasting tests.

The Reds visit Holker Street to face National League outfit Barrow first and the boss has given his thoughts ahead of the game.

I think the last two games have been different, we’ve done well in both games but I think Saturday will be a completely different game, to be honest.

They’ll obviously want a reaction after the Tuesday night. I know Ian [Evatt] well and know what he’ll be like.

We know it’s going to be a tough game there and they’re a quality team. I think they’ll be right up there this season [in the National League] so we’re looking forward to it.

Evatt and Grainger crossed paths during their respective playing careers but are now both in Cumbrian dugouts following fairly recent retirements.

Now the Reds boss sees his former adversary as a figure he aspires to mirror, saying:

I think everyone has people that they think look towards and I’m no different.

I’ve got a lot of admiration for Ian and he’s done fantastic since coming in at Barrow. He’s someone who I speak to a lot and he’s someone who I’d like to think I could pick his brains at times.

Evatt, a former Blackpool and Chesterfield captain, took the Holker Street hot seat last year, helping them to finish 10th. The 37-year-old implemented an attractive brand of football at the Furness Building Society Stadium and that signature stamp is something Grainger is looking to emulate at Borough Park.

Coming in at Workington with the lads and the way they’ve reacted to how we’ve changed things; it shows on the pitch that it’s a positive.

If we can just keep adding little bits every week and keep progressing, then hopefully it puts the stamp that I want on the team.

A hometown meeting at Frenchfield Park follows for the boss next Tuesday and is wary of Penrith’s approach but remains confident in the Reds squad.

Every game is different and I think they’ll be looking at it similar to us – because they’ve got Carlisle on Saturday – and they’d like to think that it’ll be a closer game.

I honestly do believe in this group of players and if they can keep doing what they’re doing, playing the way they’re playing, there’s no reason why they can’t put their stamp on games week in, week out, and it’ll be interesting against Penrith.

Finally, with well over 20 players attending training sessions, Grainger is ‘really happy’ with the current group.

Every squad in this league is filled with quality up to a certain level but with the depth we’ve got, I’m really happy.

We’ve probably got space for a couple of additions, and I’m be rushing into anything, but we’ll be speaking to relative people when we need to – so, again, I’m over the moon.”

Saturday’s match at Barrow is a 3pm kick-off at Holker Street, while the match against Penrith on Tuesday will begin at 7:30pm at Frenchfield Park.

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