Starting places are still 'up for grabs', says Harrogate Town assistant boss Paul Thirlwell

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver, left, and his assistant, Paul Thirlwell, are still contemplating their starting line-up for the opening game of the 2019/20 season. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver, left, and his assistant, Paul Thirlwell, are still contemplating their starting line-up for the opening game of the 2019/20 season. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Harrogate Town assistant manager Paul Thirlwell says the next few days will go a long way to deciding which players get the nod for the club’s National League opener against Solihull Moors on August 3.

The Wetherby Road outfit play the last of their six pre-season fixtures this Saturday when they entertain Spennymoor Town of National League North (3pm kick-off).

And with a number of positions still "up for grabs", Thirlwell insists that a positive showing in training this week, and against the Moors, could see players cement their places in boss Simon Weaver’s starting eleven.

“The gaffer’s pencilled a few names in which tells you that there are still a lot of positions that haven’t been decided on yet, so we are really looking at this week in terms of picking that team for Solihull,” Thirlwell revealed.

“There are places up for grabs and what the lads do in training is always important, but the Spennymoor game is the final chance to stake a claim.

“It’s up to the lads to show us what they’ve got. Whoever is picked on Saturday has to make sure that they put in a performance.

“In terms of the test they will provide, Spennymoor will be our toughest game of pre-season, so we know that we’ll have to play well if we are to get a result.”

Town suffered a first defeat in five pre-season outings at Gateshead on Tuesday evening, going down 1-0, however Thirlwell insists that both he and Weaver are satisfied with how their summer has unfolded thus far.

"You want to win every game and we dropped below the levels we expect in the first half at Gateshead, but the positive is that we got the reaction we wanted after speaking to the players at half-time," Harrogate's number two added.

"The gaffer let them know that it wasn't good enough, but I doubt there's a single manager out there who is seeing exactly what he wants from his team at this stage. This is what pre-season is for, to prepare yourselves.

"We've got seven new lads still trying to gel and that takes time, but overall I think we can be happy with what we've done so far this summer.

"We're happy with the players we've brought in, the squad is 100 per cent stronger now and the challenge is to try and build on what we did last season.

"We had a very good first year in the National League but you can't sit back, you've got to try and push on and keep improving. That's our aim, although I'm sure that every single other manager in this division is saying exactly the same thing right about now."