We take another journey around League Two to see what is making the headlines in the camps of every team in our division for 2016/17.
Accrington midfielder Scott Brown is determined to complete his “unfinished business” after signing a new two-year deal with the club. Brown arrived at Stanley in January on a short-term contract but three goals from midfield helped secure him an extended stay. “We have got to aim to get ourselves back in the mix again and build on what we did last season,” he admitted.
The Bees face a battle to keep hold of young front man Mathew Stevens after League One outfit Peterborough United declared an interest in the teenager. Stevens is out of contract at Barnet and Posh Director of Football Barry Fry is hoping to take advantage. “He scored a couple of hat-tricks against our Youth and Under-21 sides and he’s just an out and out goalscorer,” said Fry.
Blackpool Chairman Karl Oyston has thrown his support behind plans to welcome Premier League Academy teams in to next season’s EFL Trophy. Clubs voted for the proposal at the AGM in Portugal last week and Oyston feels like it’s a move forward for the game. “I think it is a good thing for the national team – maybe not a good thing for the league, but I don’t see the downsides really,” he commented.
Cambridge United have won the race to sign Medy Elito after the winger signed a two-year deal at The Abbey Stadium following his decision to leave Newport County. “After I spoke to the manager and to Jez George (Chief Executive) they told me about where they wanted to take the club and it feels like the right place to move forward,” the 25-year-old revealed.
Head of Recruitment Lee Dykes feels like Carlisle United are adding a creative spark to their armoury with the players arriving at Brunton Park this summer. Jamie Devitt and Nicky Adams were among the highest assist-makers in League Two last term and Dykes is hoping they bring that form to Cumbria. “We try to bring in progressive football players to progress the club so that the football club is always on the move in the right direction,” he explained.
There were more accolades for Cheltenham Town on Saturday night as the champions were honoured at the National League Awards. Gary Johnson was named as Manager of the Year, while Dan Holman landed the Player of the Year gong. As well as that, four of The Robins’ title-winning squad were named in the National League Team of the Year.
Talented midfielder George Moncur is on the brink of a move away from Colchester United after The U’s accepted bids from Barnsley and Peterborough United. Moncur has scored 23 goals in 97 games for Colchester but looks set to move on with the two clubs now expected to battle it out for his signature. Posh Director of Football Barry Fry has revealed that they have agreed terms with the 22-year-old but The Tykes are also keen on the former West Ham trainee.
New Crawley Town boss Dermot Drummy is happy with the way his plans are coming together ahead of the new season, admitting he doesn’t expect to be carrying a large squad. “You will get injuries but I don’t want to overload our budget or our training regime, where you have got players standing around,” said Drummy, who is hoping to build a group around 18-20 outfield players.
Crewe keeper Ben Garratt has admitted that the team must shape up defensively next season if they are to challenge for an instant return to League One. Despite being named as Fans’ Player of the Year last term, Garratt was part of a defence that shipped 83 goals as they finished bottom of League One. “If we want to have a chance of winning more games and winning promotion then we know we have to concede far less goals,” he commented.
Doncaster Rovers have boosted their firepower by swooping to sign front man John Marquis following his departure from Millwall. The 24-year-old spent the last three months of last term on loan at Northampton Town where he won the League Two title – and now he wants to do it again with Rovers. “It is why I’ve come here,” he explained. “I can see the ambition this club has and it’s about getting out of this division quickly.”
Paul Tisdale has admitted that Exeter City must be prudent in the transfer market this summer and stay within the confines of their budget. The experienced Grecians boss is happy to wheel and deal to get what he wants in a bid to make City competitive again during 2016/17. “I might be able to be quite bullish when it comes to making one or two signings,” he revealed. “But then in other areas we have to be considered and selective with our recruitment.”
Fans have responded quickly to Grimsby Town’s EFL return, with over 200 Season Tickets for 2016/17 snapped up on the first day of sales. The Mariners say that over a third of those are new Season Ticket holders and that sales figures on Day One easily beat last year’s total of 149. Next term will be Town’s first back in the League following a six-year absence.
Leyton Orient made their fourth signing of the summer over the weekend when left-back Callum Kennedy arrived following his departure from AFC Wimbledon. Andy Hessenthaler is working to revamp his squad following The O’s relegation and has also drafted in Josh Doherty, Robbie Weir and Gavin Massey since the end of last season.
Luton Town have brought in a double helping of promotion experience after signing Oxford United duo Danny Hylton and Johnny Mullins. The pair have both agreed two-year deals at Kenilworth Road and Mullins is thrilled to have been joined at the club by his U’s team-mate. “I can talk about Danny’s quality until the cows come home,” beamed the defender. “I’m chuffed to bits he’s come as well.”
Rhys Bennett put pen to paper on a contract at Mansfield Town last week before outlining his plans to one day play Premier League football. The defender joined The Stags after leaving Rochdale and the 25-year-old is determined to turn on the style for his new club. “I think I can play at that level but I have got to prove that to the fans here and to myself,” he explained. “I think I am a good player and I think I can get to the top.”
Morecambe boss Jim Bentley has completed the permanent signing of defender Luke Conlan from Burnley following his successful loan stint last term. The 21-year-old County Down born full-back has come through the ranks at Turf Moor but failed to make a breakthrough in to the First Team. A Northern Ireland Under-21 international, Conlan made 17 appearances on loan at The Globe Arena during 2015/16.
Newport County have now withdrawn contract offers made to three of their players as they look to forge ahead with plans for the 2016/17 campaign. Skipper Mark Byrne, as well as John Christophe-Ayina and Danny Holmes were all offered new terms at the end of last season but County say they have now expired and the players will all leave the club. “We are hoping to make a number of announcements of new signings later this week,” a statement from The Exiles read.
Reports in the media suggest that Notts County are on the verge of signing keeper Adam Collin from Rotherham United. The Magpies are on the lookout for a goalie after Roy Carroll left Meadow Lane at the end of last season and Collins is the name being linked with a switch. The former Carlisle United star has spent the last three seasons with Rotherham but BBC Radio Nottingham reported that he was undergoing a medical with County on Monday.
Former Pools star Peter Hartley is the subject of speculation linking him with a move away from Plymouth Argyle this summer. Grimsby Town are reportedly monitoring his situation and local media are reporting that he could be tempted by the move, given it is a return closer to his North East roots. Hartley has spent the last two seasons at Home Park but was stretchered off in the second half of their Play-Off Final defeat to AFC Wimbledon at Wembley at the end of last month.
Pompey Chief Executive Mark Catlin has insisted that the club are laid back about their summer transfer plans after landing two targets so far since the end of last term. Matt Clarke has arrived from Ipswich Town and Danny Rose has joined from Northampton Town but Catlin refused to put any timescale on any further new recruits. “We’ve spoken to the board and we’ve spoken to Paul,” he explained. “Then they’ll (further deals) get done as and when.”
Stevenage have moved to strengthen their backroom staff by announcing the appointment of Craig Smith as Head of Sports Science. The club say that Smith will “provide strength and conditioning services along with a particular focus on physical performance enhancement, injury prevention and rehabilitation.” He has experience from spells at Leyton Orient, Northampton Town, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic.
Gareth Ainsworth has admitted that the club’s financial restrictions prevented them from being able to strengthen for the run-in at the end of last season. The Chairboys missed out on a place in the play-offs for a second successive season and boss Ainsworth admitted it was down, in part, to being unable to add more quality when needed. “To be able to invest like that at a crucial time of the season is something we failed to do because of our financial situation,” he commented.
Glovers star Nathan Smith has hit upon a different method to relax during the summer months, after spending ten days at a silent retreat in India. During his stay, the defender slept on a metal bed without a mattress, was up at 4am every morning and spent over 11 hours meditating every day in 37-degree heat. “Some feel like going away on holidays is relaxing but the mind is still very much active,” he explained. “This helps get the mind relaxed, concentrated and away from all the mayhem.”