Matlock Town joint managers Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood reckon competition for places among their squad is already paying dividends as they prepare for the upcoming EVO-STIK League campaign.
With their squad preparing to take on Chesterfield at the Autoworld Arena tonight (Thursday), Hopkins has told the club’s fans they are “chuffed” with their business and preparation so far after snapping up Ilkeston FC’s star 19-year-old winger Luis Rose and midfielder Rory Coleman, 26, from Coalville Town.
Midfielder Callum Lloyd is now fully fit after a serious knee injury while Adam Yates and Ted Cribley have also agreed contracts with the Gladiators bosses. Hopkins believes they’ll be more than ready for the 2017-18 campaign despite losing loan star Marcus Dinanga following the striker’s summer recall by Burton Albion.
Hopkins said: “Having got Adam Yates and Ted Cribley tied up, it was brilliant to see Willo and Joe sign their contracts. We’ve managed to keep nearly everyone from last year so we’re chuffed. It gives us a good base and means that most of the players know what’s expected of them. Willo and Joe did really well but Cleveland Taylor and Callum Lloyd will push them for the two central midfield places.
“Cleveland’s come back looking really fit and sharp, he’s a tremendous talker as well. Callum’s back to full fitness, when me and Kirky won the First Division South with Mickleover, Lloydy was the best player in the league.”
According to Hopkins, Rose has been on the club’s radar for some time. “Luis has really impressed us in pre-season, he’s worked really hard and you can see he wants to do well,” he said. “He did very well against us last season and we’ve watched Ilkeston two or three times and liked what we saw. We’ve met his Mum and dad, he’s got a very good background and if he continues to show the same attributes he can become a very good player.”
Looking ahead to Matlock’s opening friendly against their near neighbours from League One for the Vertu Toyota Cup, he added: “We’ve had five good sessions including last Saturday when we had an hour of ball work followed by a good session in the gym. The lads have come back looking really fit, pre season’s gone well so far and we’re looking forward to the game on Thursday when we can see how we’re doing. We’ll have two trialists in and hopefully there’ll be a big crowd, Chesterfield will field their new signings and it’ll be a nice night.”