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Curle warns City over promotion expectations.

Wolverhampton Wanderers skipper Keith Curle intends to point out a few home truths to newly-promoted Manchester City when he heads back to his former club tomorrow.

The 35-year-old central defender still has a great affection for City and is delighted to see them back in the First Division. But he is warning City manager Joe Royle that climbing to the Premiership will be a far tougher assignment - starting with tomorrow's live TV clash against Wolves at Maine Road.

"I had five magnificent years with City at the height of my career," he said. "I still go and watch them if I'm not playing and I went to their friendly against Liverpool on Tuesday.

"But Wolves have discovered over the years just how difficult it can be to get out of this division, and it will be the same for City.

"Both clubs should be in the Premiership, but it's important to lay the right foundations.

"They are a club who deserve to be in the Premiership, but they have to go through the same as us and build a solid base.

"It's been frustrating for Wolves to be in this division for so long, but we are capable of doing it this time, even though we have not spent a lot of money.

"In the past, the club spent a lot on players who did not fulfil their potential, but now the foundations are right. If players are not prepared to come here now, they are not the type of people the club needs."

Curle, who signed a new two-year contract this summer after turning down a move to neighbours West Bromwich Albion, expects a hot reception on his return to Maine Road, particularly with City fans fired up for life in the higher grade. But he wouldn't want it any other way.

"The place will be full and they are a very passionate crowd," he said. "But we have players who are used to playing in front of vocal fans. I'm sure I will get a bit of stick, but I would be disappointed if that didn't happen. It would mean I hadn't made an impact."

City boss Royle believes they can get among the promotion contenders.

He said: "People talk about consolidation, but we haven't got time for that. I think we can at least get into the play-offs."

"It's a big start for us," said Royle.

"It's just the sort of game a club like Manchester City should be involved in."

Royle also has the luxury of a full strength squad and he is likely to stick with the team which started in Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Liverpool.

Wolves, meanwhile, have signed goalkeeper Steve Mautone on a short-term contract following his release by Reading.

The 28-year-old Australian, who has signed a deal which runs until November 5, will be on the bench at Maine Road as cover for Mike Stowell.

Manager Colin Lee said: "Mautone will bridge the gap between Mike and Matt Murray. Matt has done well during the pre-season but he is only 18 and is very young to be the only back-up for Mike."
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Author:Bishop, Rob
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 7, 1999
Words:520
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