Manger, Jim Gannon, gives his latest squad update.
It has been only ten days since my last squad update but so much has happened I felt it important to provide another update to give an overview of the first team player developments. I would have like to provide a squad update before Saturday’s game, as I’m sure that some of the additions and changes to the team would have surprised many. However, I felt it prudent to not make such a statement prior to an important league game.
Following last Tuesday’s game an additional two players reported injuries – Liam Tonge (thigh) and Harry Benns (Groin). Furthermore, in training on Thursday evening Kyle Brownhill suffered a calf injury. Unfortunately, this meant that we were heading into Saturday’s game without eight first team players Joe Green (groin), Jason Akiotu (hamstring), Kyle Brownhill (calf), Jack Sheratt (pelvic/hip), Chinedu Uche (ankle), Liam Tonge (thigh), Harry Benns (Groin) and Jonah Mitchell (ankle).
This means that since the two wins in early September we have only consistently had the presence of four professional players Jordan Fagbola, Bradley Roscoe, Cameron Fogerty and Tom Pratt. They have been great in terms of the contribution and consistency of purpose. But as each injury has happened, we have had to look more urgently to add players. It is a tough environment to find available players with quality and experience that match the profile of players we wish to recruit.
Over the last week we had been able to add the experience and physical presence of Craig Ellison (goalkeeper), James Jones (central defence) and Jack Dyche (Attacker) to those four contracted players. But we only had seven other players fit and registered as at midnight last Thursday. They were teenagers Ricky Longato (19), Henry Carne (17), Bradley Page (19), Aiden Butterworth (18) Carter Waters (19) and attackers Mitch Candlin and Hamid Addai who are also relatively young.
With only 16 players registered we decided to sign trial players Harry Ditchfield, a 20 year old right sided player, and Fenton Green, an 18 year old central midfielder. These two players helped form the match day squad for Saturday. I know the players will be disappointed with the result, but the young players have gained invaluable experience of what is required to step up to this level.
We will need to take the pressure off both the young players, as it is a huge stretch for them at this level, and it is a tough environment for them to develop. But also, we need to recruit and add to help the senior players who have increased demands on them. I believe the home grown ‘Young Tigers’ will have a great future at the Club and in the game. But they will need time to mature, develop and grow without the undue demands of constant games at a level that stretches them beyond their current capacity.
That need to accelerate the work to strengthen was reinforced by another difficult day’s news today. We learned today that Jack Dyche will not be available due to injury, and that Mitch Candlin is leaving the club to seek a club closer to home and reduce the pressure on his work and travel commitments. I do not fear the further depletion going into Tuesday’s game as I feel the lowest point has been met, and that the process of recovery has already started.
As quickly as we have been depleted, I believe we can strengthen. The prognosis on many of the injuries are in now in the ‘return to play’ category. We expect a couple of players each week to return over the coming 3 weeks. Although their contribution has to be well managed to reduce potential of recurrence or secondary injuries we expect a greater contribution from a far greater pool of experience players.
Also, we have waited patiently for notice to be served allowing us to speak to several potential recruits and I expect positive talks over the next 24/48 hours which will yield new signings. Each new signing will also surely reinforce the team. Slowly and steadily over the remainder of this month we will get stronger and stronger.