Sunday, 15 July 2012

Time for some business

Tomorrow, pre-season will start in earnest.
The players came back on Thursday, did their fitness tests on Friday, and will assemble at Seasons with five days to go until the first friendly, at Evesham's new stadium next Saturday.
After the four summer departures, and the arrivals of Sam Deering and Billy Jones, we have 16 players on the books, and with Mark Yates saying he wants 21 or 22, there is still work to be done in the wheeling and dealing department.

I was delighted with the signing of Deering, a player I thought was one of the best to come up against us last season, and he is only 21.
He stood out in all three games we played against Barnet, and despite his lack of height, he is a tricky player with skill and will give us options if we play the 4-2-3-1 system, as Deering could play on the right side or just off the forward and would link the play well.
This would move Russ Penn back, I presume, to play more of a holding role alongside Marlon Pack, and I feel that might suit him better, and having Deering further forward will be more of a goal threat.
Jones is a solid, lower-league full-back, with good grounding at Orient, Kidderminster, Crewe and Exeter, having played some 300-odd games.
At 29, he will give us a first-choice defence packed with experience, and it seems that Jones is a set-piece man, as he has scored 26 goals in his time, good for a full-back.

After Jones' arrival, Yatesy said he wants four arrivals before the training camp in Wales, so this week could be an exciting one.
The gaffer said that if he could secure one of the signings, the others would hopefully then fall into place.
This would appear to mean (if my reading between the lines is correct...) that this signing is the 'marquee' one, presumably a striker who will take up the majority of his remaining (slightly increased) playing budget.
Position-wise, we need two strikers, another goalkeeper, a wide player (I would say right sided) and maybe another central midfield player, which would take us up to 21 players.
The triallists we have are intruiging.
Mark Hughes is by far the most experienced one, having played alongside Sam Deering for Barnet and scored the goal which kept the Bees up last season.
I would say that Hughes would be more of a natural replacement for Luke Summerfield than Deering, who is more attack-minded, and Hughes would be more like Summers or Penn.
Having lost Josh Low, Junior Smikle and, last season, Dave Bird from our midfield back-up ranks, someone like Hughes could fill a gap in the squad.
We also have Ibrahim Farah on trial as a potential midfield recruit. He is a 20-year-old from Cardiff, who has not played for the Bluebirds, but made three appearances on loan at Tamworth.
Colin Hamilton is another candidate, the 20-year-old having come from Hearts, but his only games have been six starts and two substitute games at Stenhousemuir.
The other two triallists are defenders, Niall Wellington, a left-sided player from West Brom and Rob Farkins, a centre-half with an interesting story.
These are two areas we probably don't need cover in, unless a club comes in for Danny Andrew, which would leave Jones as our only left-back.
Wellington is a teenager from the Baggies' academy and may be worth keeping an eye on, while Farkins played for Torquay's youth team and served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine.
See Jon Palmer's Echo piece with him here: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Cheltenham-Town-Soldier-Rob-aims-place-Yates-Army/story-16535091-detail/story.html
With him, fitness is not going to be a problem, and it will be down to whether the recommendation from Yatesy's old team-mate John Gayle is a good one, and the guy can play.
But with Keith Lowe and Harry Hooman already at the club as cover for central defence, it also brings into question whether we need another player in that area.
Evesham next week will give us our chance to see how these five limber up - and if Yatesy's recruitment plans are on course, there could be a few more new faces to have a look at.