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Kevin Targets Further Improvement

Ahead of his second Ladbrokes League 2 campaign at Broadwood, Clyde captain Kevin Nicoll took time to speak to the official website about the upcoming campaign, his Man of the Match performance against Motherwell and the players in the squad who see him as their dad!

The 32-year-old midfielder started by looking back at a Betfred Cup campaign, which finished with an encouraging performance against Premiership side, Motherwell.

Nicoll said: “I like the League Cup format because you get to challenge yourself against teams who are two leagues above you, even three leagues above you, with the likes of Motherwell from the Premiership. 

“Even for the club it is good publicity to get on the TV and I think it is good for players in League 2 and League 1 to challenge themselves against teams from higher above. It stands you in good stead for going into the start of the league season. 

“I think as the games went on we got stronger. If you look at the Stranraer game, the performance we put on there was very good and then against Motherwell, up until around the 70th minute, we looked solid as a unit, which is always important.”

Kevin was voted Man of the Match against Motherwell and he believes it was a game that suited his style of play. He explained: “I think my position is a hard one because if people are looking at highlights, I’ll maybe not be involved in most of it because I mainly do the ‘dirty work’ – if you like to call it that – tracking runs, winning the ball back and feeding it into the players who are more attacking, to give them a free role to go. I try to sit in and protect. 

“I think with Motherwell being a big physical team it worked out well for myself because I tried to do most of the physical battling in the midfield and let the other players go and set themselves free to try and attack, knowing that I will be covering.”

While Nicoll and the rest of the team impressed on the pitch, it was another group of people at Broadwood who the captain was keen to acknowledge. He continued: “There was a great support at the game on Saturday. The fans were in full voice and must have had some sore throats in the morning.

“When they get behind the team and are singing and backing us, it makes a massive difference and hopefully they were proud of the performance that we put in because the most important thing is the fans.” 

Now that the Betfred Cup campaign has ended, the attention turns to the league and Nicoll believes the team can build on last season’s turnaround and strong finish, narrowly missing out on a play-off place. 

The skipper said: “As we all know, since Danny has come in we are more organised as a team. The first thing he worked on was to stop goals going in, which we did. Then we went on the run and I think if there had been another few weeks left in the season, we’d have definitely made the play-offs. 

“We’ll take that into this season and hopefully we can improve on it as well because you can always improve, no matter how well you are playing.” 

As well as new faces arriving at Clyde over the summer, five of last season’s short-term signings also committed to the club again. Ray Grant and Chris McStay have extended their stay with The Bully Wee, with former Huddersfield loanees Jack Boyle and Dylan Cogill making permanent moves north to Broadwood, as well as Partick Thistle’s Mark Lamont joining the club.

Kevin believes it was crucial to get all five on board again for the upcoming campaign:-

“Hopefully, with a good few of the boys from last year, we can improve again. 

“I think when you go into a new season, especially with the form we are in, it is good to keep the boys from the season before because we were playing so well. It means we can try to build on the way we were playing at the end of last season and hopefully everyone can buy into that and we can carry on and improve on the performances. 

“The manager has brought in great quality as well so hopefully with that we can improve again.

“I think the difference this year is that we will have a really strong bench as well. I think everyone knows that if they are under-performing, there is somebody there chapping the door to have your jersey which I think is good and brings the best out in players. We know that we need to perform to our best and if we don’t, there is going to be somebody there to take the jersey straight away. 

“There is healthy competition, but it also helps with any injuries and suspensions. I don’t think there will be any questions asked when anyone in the squad is asked to perform.”

One new player Nicoll was particularly pleased to see arriving at Broadwood this summer was John Rankin as it means Nicoll, at 32, is no longer the elder statesman of the midfield. He laughed: “I was on the phone to Danny telling him to sign John because I don’t want to be the oldest! Signing him makes me feel a wee bit more youthful. 

“You can see John’s experience when he gets on the ball – especially at Stranraer, he was on the ball and making the right passes through the back four. You have the movement of Goodie and, that night, Ally was also up there and John just picks the right passes and the right weight of passes. I think that will be a big bonus for us this year. 

“John and Goodie are two intelligent footballers and I think as time goes on, they will work with each other, get used to how each other play. That pairing will only get better and there will be many goals to come from it.

Despite Rankin’s arrival, Kevin currently still finds himself at the father figure in what is still a youthful changing room:-

“Mark Lamont calls me his ‘football Dad’ because I am always looking out for him and try to guide him in the right direction. 

“Then there’s McNiff. Although he is 26, everyone in the changing room says I am his dad because I need to do everything for him – I need to pick him up, he’s always late, he’s always forgetting stuff and asking to borrow my towel. So although he’s 26, I’m still the father figure in there for him as well!

“I’ll need to try to pass those duties onto John!”

While he’s keen to lose the ‘father’ title, the captain said that he is more than happy to pass on his experience to help the young squad:-

“It’s weird – you look back and think that was me as one of the young players and it feels like that was just a couple of years ago and now you’re here, you’ve played however many games and you’ve been through everything they are about to go through. 

“The likes of myself, John and Goodie will be able to talk to them and even if they are slipping in performance, we will always be there to give them constructive information and help them on. Hopefully to improve them as players overall as well.

Nicoll concluded by reinforcing his desire to succeed for the Bully Wee faithful:- 

“If we didn’t have the fans there, Clyde wouldn’t be the club it is so I’d just like to let them know, we will be trying to have as successful a season for them. 

“Hopefully we can put smiles on faces by the end of the season.”