Altrincham boss Neil Young has added width to his new-look Altrincham squad by signing two highly-rated young wingers in Billy Hasler-Cregg and Jamie Menagh.
Burnley-born Hasler-Cregg, 19, has arrived from Rochdale, while 22-year old Liverpudlian Menagh has linked up with Young for a third time after previously playing for him at Chester and Stockport County.
‘Billy is an exciting young wide player who can operate on either side and had great reviews from his time on loan at Droyslden last year,’ said Alty boss Young. ‘He has had a taste of non-League football and is keen to make the most of this opportunity.
‘He’s a lad who was identified and spoken to in the first week of being appointed at Altrincham. We are really looking forward to working with Billy, and I know he is looking forward to it immensely.
‘Jamie is a player I took to Chester in the Conference not long after he left Blackpool, and he did really well there. I also took him to Stockport, though I only worked with him there for a couple of weeks. He can play anywhere across the middle, but particularly in wide areas. He’s hard working, with a great set-piece delivery, and he also has a willingness to learn. At only 22, he has a hunger to do well and kick on.’
Hasler-Cregg was one of only three Academy graduates to be offered 12-month professional contracts at Rochdale last summer, after benefitting from training with the first team throughout the 2014-15 season. During that campaign, he was among the substitutes for the FA Cup first-round replay at home to Northampton and League One fixture against Doncaster, and at the end of it, he said:
‘The coaching staff have been great with me, and I know I have improved a lot over the last couple of years. I have really enjoyed being involved with the first team and getting the experience of being among senior players. Being involved with pros has helped me greatly, and they have given me advice every step of the way.
‘They demand a lot from you. They expect you to train the same way they do and have the same attitude. But they will always help if there is something you are struggling with. They have given me advice on how to be better as a player, and what the gaffer wants, and that has gone a long way towards helping me secure my first professional contract.’
Hasler-Cregg marked his first seven games on loan to Droylsden last season with three goals, five assists and two man-of-the-match awards and became a top target for Young once the recently-appointed Alty manager heard of his availability.
Menagh was snapped up by then-Chester boss Young from Prescot Cables in October, 2013 and could hardly have made a more impressive start, scoring twice on his full debut in a 3-3 draw with Lincoln City and following up with a dramatic stoppage-time winner in the live BT Sport game against FC Halifax.
He started out in central midfield but switched to the right flank and was described in the Chester Chronicle’s sports pages as being a ‘direct and energetic’ winger. He left Chester in January, 2015 and joined forces with Young again at Stockport nearly 12 months later, though he might have been playing his trade at a higher level, but for a quirk of fate.
‘I was at Blackpool from the age of about 15, and I turned professional with them,’ he said. ‘Then Stoke came in for me, so I went there and did well. I was meant to be signing a new two-year deal, but then the manager Tony Pulis and my coach Dave Kevan got sacked, and it all fell through.’
Young’s latest double signing follows the capture of keeper Andrew Dawber, midfielders Charlie Joyce and David Lynch and centre-back Tom Hannigan, as well as news that James Lawrie and Damian Reeves have accepted new terms for next season. Former Clitheroe manager Simon Garner has also been added to the backroom staff”.