Cheltenham Town video: Yates prepares to hold talks
MARK Yates will allow the dust to settle after a frantic January transfer window before sitting down to discuss contract extension with the players he wants to keep at Cheltenham Town.
The Robins host Bristol Rovers tonight (7.45pm) before making long trips to Dagenham and Redbridge and Southend United on Saturday and next Tuesday respectively.
Yates plans to use a rare free week after the home match against Aldershot Town on February 16 to sit down with members of his squad and chairman Paul Baker to thrash out extended deals as he continues to build for the future.
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"It will happen soon, but there is no great rush and at the moment our focus is first and foremost on winning against Bristol Rovers," Yates said.
"We have a little bit of a breather after the Aldershot game before it goes back to Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday so I'll look to speak to players then."
Among the players out of contract this summer are Steve Elliott, Kaid Mohamed, Russ Penn, Darryl Duffy and Darren Carter, who signed a contract extension last month.
Marlon Pack already appears to be heading to pastures new, whether it be when the loan window reopens or at the end of the season.
The deals of back-up goalkeeper Connor Roberts, Harry Hooman and Bagasan Graham also expire in the summer.
One player who remains on course to complete a loan move to Cheltenham is Luke Rooney.
The Swindon Town winger has been training with Cheltenham and is expected to sign when the window for emergency loan signings reopens on Friday.
"We'll see how it goes over the next couple of days, but Luke has been training with us," Yates said.
"I need to speak to Swindon to sort it out."
Pack will be named in tonight's squad having watching Saturday's 2-1 win over Torquay United from the stand while his move to Swindon hangs in the balance.
"I asked Marlon if he wanted a couple more days off, but he is a very mature lad and he wanted to be a part of it, so he comes back into the squad," Yates said.
Cheltenham are expected to be unchanged for the visit of John Ward's Rovers side, who have won their last three games to climb clear of the relegation zone.
Ward took Cheltenham to their most recent promotion, via the play-offs in 2006 and Yates said he had full respect for the experienced boss.
"He released me from Cheltenham as a player, but I don't hold any grudges for that," Yates joked.
"He worked wonders at this club and he is a very good man and a good manager and I see him at games and talk to him regularly.
"He's got Rovers organised and they have threats in attacking areas, so we know it'll be a tough local derby game.
"We have been buoyed by new arrivals and Rovers have been buoyed by recent results so it should be a good game."
Saturday's ninth home league win of the campaign took Cheltenham back into the top three and Yates said they were still yet to find top form this season.
"We haven't really built up a head of steam yet and we are up there fighting," Yates said.
"We want to tick the games off, keep winning and get as high up the table as we can."
Left-back Billy Jones (thigh) comes back into contention, but after good performances from full-backs Keith Lowe and Sido Jombati, Yates is unlikely to change his back four.
"Sido had his best game for a while and Keith was exceptional," he said.
"Maybe Keith is a bit of a wounded animal at the moment because there have been times when I've picked people ahead of him.
"But if he keeps performing like he did on Saturday I don't see him being ousted from the team. He was great defensively and his movement when he goes forward for set pieces is good.
"He wants to attack the ball and he's a good weapon to have."