Duffers’ Diaries: Safety secured, now for an interesting summer ahead

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Any lingering doubts about Ilkeston’s safety in the NPL were finally put to bed on Saturday and the two successive wins against Whitby and Hyde gave some timely cheer after that awful run of nine straight defeats.

Tuesday night at Buxton brought the Robins back down to earth but now they’re safe those kinds of results will perhaps come under much less scrutiny from people like yours truly.

The two wins have actually proved crucial too because Whitby have won both of their games since last Monday’s visit to the NMG and Hyde are obviously in the zone at the moment, so it was so important Ilkeston found some form when they did otherwise the last ten days of the season could have been very uncomfortable indeed.

Nothing has changed in terms of what needs to happen during the summer, in my opinion. A more balanced squad in terms of youth and experience will be really important and if that means implementing a training schedule that can accommodate both part-time and full-time players then so be it, unless funds become available that can pay older players a full-time salary which I’d say is highly unlikely.

Some of the young Robins players have really shown in the last few games that they’re more than capable of making the grade next season with a bit more experience but there are still areas where new blood will be needed and players who have been there and done it at this level will be most welcome.

Keeping the likes of Matt Baker, Mike Williams and Danny Gordon, to name but three, will be important, as will holding on to those who have come on in leaps and bounds in recent weeks, but of course there may be clubs sniffing around a few of these lads and if the right offers come in we could well see a few depart in the summer.

Time will tell. The last couple of games are more than winnable so a bright end to the season looks possible. Then we shall see what a potentially fascinating summer will bring.