Craven signs but Richards turns down contract offer

Sam Craven
Sam Craven

Defender Sam Craven has become Ilkeston FC’s second new signing of the summer as manager Kevin Wilson continues to build a squad for the new season.

Craven, 24, began his career at Notts County before spending four years playing football in the USA, turning out for sides in Florida and New York.

His return to the UK saw him sign a deal with Mansfield Town, and last season he spent time with Hednesford and Eastwood.

Wilson said: “Sam’s had a few clubs and perhaps needs to settle down somewhere, but he’s got good qualities and gives us options at centre-half, which is particularly important given Joe Maguire is suspended for the first three matches.

“He wasn’t far off getting a professional contract at Notts County and got some good experience as a pro in the States, so that will have helped him develop as a player.”

Wilson says he is continuing to talk to players he wants to bring to the New Manor Ground, as well as those existing players who have been offered contracts but are yet to sign.

One of those is popular midfielder Matt Richards, who Wilson revealed has turned down an initial offer made to him by the Robins.

“I’ve spoken to quite a few players but, as is so often the case, the financial element is what proves the hardest to agree on and we lose out,” said Wilson.

“We won’t break our wage structure for anyone, so it’s a case of being patient as demands may drop once the season gets nearer.

“Matt Richards has turned down the offer we made him, but I don’t think it will be a shock to anyone if he gets a good move somewhere.

“It’s something I hope will happen for him because he deserves it, but we will be due a fee due to the Bosman ruling.

“If he doesn’t get a move then he’ll sign for the terms we agreed.

“Dan Partridge is another player I’m waiting on but that’s been deliberate as he is finishing his university studies and has final exams to worry about, so I’ll chat to him once they’re done.”

Wilson says he still hopes to bring in four or five new players ahead of the new campaign, but that he is willing to fall back on his academy stars if need be given their impressive displays at the end of last season.

He added: “I still think we’re a few short but people will need to realise that if we have to give some of the younger lads a chance and have another season of consolidation while they gain experience, then so be it.

“We have targets to aim at, including a higher league finish, defence of the Derbyshire Senior Cup and hopefully progress to the first round proper of the FA Cup this time, so I’m aiming to build a team capable of achieving that.”