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Keith Curle hopes Northampton promotion can be stepping stone to top flight job

Derby County v Northampton Town – FA Cup – Fourth Round – Replay – Pride Park
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Keith Curle hopes guiding Northampton to promotion at Wembley can be “a stepping stone” in his quest to become a Premier League manager.

Cobblers boss Curle is preparing to take on Exeter in Monday evening’s Sky Bet League Two play-off final.

The 56-year-old former England defender is currently in charge of his sixth different club but is yet to record a promotion on his managerial CV.

Keith Curle won promotion to the Premier League as a coach alongside Neil Warnock at QPR

Keith Curle won promotion to the Premier League as a coach alongside Neil Warnock at QPR (Daniel Hambury/PA)

He wants to end Northampton’s two-year absence from the third tier by winning against the Grecians and feels such an achievement could aid his chances of securing a top-flight job in the future.

“I’ve had a promotion as a player, I’ve a promotion from the Championship to the Premier League when I was working with Neil Warnock at QPR,” said Curle.

“Then I choose the direction I wanted to go and I wanted to be a manager in my own right.

“Within my own personal guises, I want to manage and coach in the Premier League and a stepping stone is gaining promotion – showing the greater world that what you do you’re good at and you’re able to win games of football.”

Coronavirus restrictions mean the winner-takes-all contest at the national stadium will be played without supporters.

They will be partly replaced by a host of cardboard cut-outs, including comedian Alan Carr, whose father Graham used to the Cobblers, and basketball great Shaquille O’Neal.

Northampton were seventh in the division when play was halted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in March and secured a play-off spot by a single point.

The Cobblers reached Wembley by overturning a 2-0 semi-final first-leg deficit to defeat Cheltenham 3-2 on aggregate.

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Curle has challenged his players to replicate Monday’s superb second leg display and make the absent fans proud.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to showcase what we are trying to build at the football club,” he said.

“Everybody that witnessed the game on Monday night saw how far we’ve come as a team and what we need to do now, we need to replicate that level of performance, individually and collectively.

“The mindset has got to be absolutely the same. It’s an opportunity to go out, represent the football club and put in a performance that can make a lot of people proud.”