Smiles better

KEVIN Blackwell’s wheeling and dealing is in full swing as the Bury manager continues to plot the Shakers path out of the League One relegation zone.

Former Crystal Palace midfielder Tom Soares arrived at the back end of last week after his release from Edinburgh club Hibernian, but the 26-year-old is unable to figure until he receives international clearance.

Another new boy, who arrived too late to play a part in Bury’s excellent 2-0 home win against Portsmouth on Saturday, is 19-year-old defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell, but he will be available for the trip to face Colchester United this weekend.

Meanwhile, Blackwell is still waiting for permission from Leeds United boss Neil Warnock to exend the loans of Dominic Poleon and Zac Thompson, who both impressed against Pompey, beyond the weekend.

The manager is acutely aware that he only has until the loan deadline, November 23, to complete his deliberations and has centre-back Adam Lockwood on four yellow cards and veteran Efe Sodje with two reds going into the busy Chrismas period.

The Bury boss is having to work within the constraints of the loan rules which prevent him selectingmore than five loanees in his 16-man squad.

But there appears to be a distinctly more optimistic atmosphere around the dresssing than there was before Blackwell’s arrival on September 26.

And the boss is adopting a far more supportive tone with his players than he did when he initially arrived.

“I was critical of them when I came,” he said. “but now I’m full of praise. They are absolutely first-class professionals with their attitude, the way they’ve trained, listened and responded.

“I made a few comments to try to see who sank and who swam. Obviously they swam because the lads are still here.

“Sometimes it’s a question of how you get into them psychologically. Sometimes you throw the gauntlet down, by saying to someone ‘you’re not good enough’ and then they might say ‘I think I am’ and then you say ‘well go on, then, show me’.

“The players are good enough, but they’ve got to want to be good enough. It’s not enough to turn up and train and go through the motions. You’ve got to want to play for the club and win games.”

Blackwell has little interest in how badly Bury played last season when they visited Saturday’s opponents Colchester United where they lost 4-1 “I have no interest in what happened last year, it was before I came here,” he said. “It’s a different team, manager, everything. But it’s true I wouldn’t want another performance like that one.”

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