KEITH Curle spent time over the summer rebuilding his squad, but he has yet to use the starting XI he had in mind.

"We're nine games in now and if you'd have asked me at the start of the season what my starting team was going to be, we've not got near it yet,” said the head coach.

"It's like trying to cook a roast dinner and you go to the shop and you find out there aren't any potatoes and the meat counter's closed. But then you've still got to provide a Sunday dinner.”

What’s on the menu instead?

"Bangers and mash with loads of caramelised onion gravy.

“You have to be creative.”

For Curle, the same goes for preparing his squad for match days.

"It's a case of having to abandon some of the ideals and ideologies about how you want the game played and you put a team out to try to be competitive,” he said.

Fortunately, the injury situation is improving, albeit it at a slow pace.

Curle is expecting players to be drip-fed back into the squad over the coming weeks, but there are still eight unavailable for tomorrow’s visit of Harrogate Town.

"From next week potentially one a week will be able to come back into the squad,” explained the 57-year-old, who is relishing a different kind of headache.

"Selection will be a lot harder, and we may be able to put square pegs in square holes.”

Latics are desperate to chalk off that first home League Two win of the season and build on last weekend’s buoyant derby mood.

But Curle is mindful of the challenge Harrogate will pose.

“They are a well organised team with a good structure of how they play, good understanding and are comfortably in the top half of the division,” he said.

"They had a delayed start to the season and missed a few games (because of Covid) but they've kept quite a settled team which has given them the opportunity to start the season well.

"They don't change a lot from their blueprint of how they want to play, they are disciplined, can great goals and have a solid defence.

"We've got to stop them from playing and then earn the right to play.

"That's exactly the same as what we had to do against Rochdale at the weekend. We did a lot of work on making sure that we stopped their threat and then utilised the weaknesses we thought we could exploit.

"That won't change, that's got to be part of our remit week in week out, win the battle first and earn the right to play and then get people in the box and get them forward.”