Exeter City captain Danny Coles keen to gain upper hand against old pal Clarke
Danny Coles will be fit and ready to lead Exeter City tomorrow – with the aim of putting one over on his good friend Ryan Clarke.
The Grecians' skipper missed Tuesday's Johnstone's Paint Trophy penalty loss to Aldershot Town, but returned to training yesterday and announced he will be fit for tomorrow's top-of-the-table npower League Two clash against Oxford United.
He would love nothing more than a win against a side whose goalkeeper is a good friend of the former Bristol City, Hull City and Bristol Rovers central defender.
"He [Clarke] used to live with me when he was at Bristol Rovers and I was at Bristol City, so it will be nice to see that doughnut," Coles said. "I'll be coming up for corners looking to score and no doubt I'll give him a bit of stick! He's a good goalkeeper and he will be hard to beat. But I hope it will be a good weekend for us.
"I think it was a bad bit of business when Bristol Rovers got rid of him but, for him, it has probably been a blessing in disguise. It made him more determined to become a better goalkeeper and prove people wrong. He has gone there and established himself as number one, and it is all credit to him. He is a fantastic goalkeeper and deserves to do well."
Exeter travel to the Kassam Stadium tomorrow buoyed by three successive wins in League Two and they are just a goal better off than the third-placed home side.
Those wins have been built on solid defence – the Grecians have not conceded a goal for five hours and 43 minutes – and Coles believes there is more to come from them.
"There are more goals in the side, no doubt," he said. "Even when we won at Accrington and Burton, we felt we could have scored more goals and we didn't play particularly well in the second half against Burton. We know, when it works for us, we can score and we have the strikers here that are second to none. We know there is a lot more to come.
"We knew after watching the Morecambe game that there was a lot of stuff that wasn't too bad. We had a funny eight-minute spell when they scored the three goals, but, aside from that, there were a lot of positives.
"We didn't get too down about it and we couldn't wait for the Aldershot game and for me personally, as captain, I'm chuffed with the way we have all reacted and we have done really well.
"I think we have been very professional and defensively, we have been solid. Teams run out of ideas against us, which is good, and, in this league, you can wear teams down and shut them out."
Coles added: "The performances have been exactly what we've wanted, everyone knows what they're doing and it's been great.
"We have three clean-sheets in a row now as well, which is pleasing. We went through pre-season without getting one, but, if we keep getting them now, I'll take that.
"We've worked hard on it with the staff and we're doing all right. Hopefully we can get another one this weekend."
Coles is almost certain to reclaim his place in the side from Jordan Moore-Taylor, who replaced him late in the day against Burton and received a whack just seconds after coming on. He then performed superbly in Coles' absence on Tuesday, and Coles believed Moore-Taylor has a bright future.
"Jordan smashed his lip, he got a forearm in the mouth, but he is a more than capable replacement. He is a good player," Coles said.
"He is a fantastic prospect for the club to have. He is like a man already and he doesn't look out of place at all. All credit to him."
Exeter youngsters Aaron Dawson, Jake Gosling and Ollie Knowles have been allowed to leave St James' Park in loan deals.
Dawson has joined Blue Square South side Havant & Waterlooville, and scored on his debut against Hayes & Yeading on Tuesday.
Gosling has replaced Jacob Wannell as a loanee at Dorchester Town and joins fellow Grecian Jamie Reid at the Blue Square South club, while Knowles has joined Barnstaple Town of the Toolstation Western League Premier Division.