KEITH Curle has told his players they must be selfish if they want to maximise and prolong their careers.

While acknowledging that football is a team game, the Latics boss says it is imperative for footballers - particularly in the lower leagues where contracts are predominantly short - to do everything they can to look after themselves, both on and off the pitch.

Latics have a number of players out of contract this summer, including top scorer Conor McAleny.

And Curle feels that by all of them playing for either a new deal, or new club, Latics will reap the benefits as a whole between now and the end of the season.

"The players, especially in the lower leagues where there aren't many players who are under contract - they haven't got the luxury of sitting on a two, three or four-year contract - there will be a lot of players who are up this season and a lot of players who will be trying to showcase their capabilities to potential suitors, so it's vitally important that when a player puts on a shirt they perform because people are watching, whether that be ourselves or whether that be other football clubs. So every game, every performance, every result still matters," said Curle.

"One thing you do find within this profession is the need to be selfish, because you have to look after yourself. There's nothing wrong with that. Don't shy away from being a selfish player, and what I mean by being a selfish player is doing what you need to do as an individual to get the best out of your performance, whether that be through the week or on a matchday. Look after yourself first, then look after your team-mates.

"It's getting players to do their job and understanding what's needed.

"It's making the players realise this is their job and this is their profession and looking after their tools - ie their body - making sure they do everything they can. Asking them 'Are you as fit as you can be or you need to be? Are you as strong as you can be, as fast as you can be, are you doing everything right?'. If they say 'no' then they're only letting themselves down."

And Curle feels that this year, with the ongoing financial implications caused by Covid-19 throughout football, all clubs will be more frugal, making it even more important for players to be on top of their game in the hope of earning a deal.

"Being realistic I think there's going to have to be a massive change in the finances of football, like other industries," said Curle, who feels footballers would benefit from a mindset of being 'self employed'.

"The players have got to realise that even though they are involved in a team sport and they get an association to a football club that they are in all essence self employed," he added.

"The more chance they have of fulfilling their potential and going up the divisions - obviously the higher up you go, the rewards are greater.

"The better they do, individually, the better their career will be."