Defensive pair sign up as Strachan continues to build

Matt Baker (centre) has agreed a contract with Ilkeston for next season.
Matt Baker (centre) has agreed a contract with Ilkeston for next season.

Defenders Matt Baker and Curtis Burrows became the latest players to commit to Ilkeston FC this week as new head coach Gavin Strachan continued to mould his first Robins squad.

Baker, 22, has been a regular in the Robins defence in the past two seasons having come through the club’s academy setup.

Burrows, who turns 19 next month, also came through the academy and made several first team appearances last season.

Baker said: “We had a good campaign overall last season but it was disappointing not to go up. Hopefully this year we can put a few things right and make a good push to win the league.”

Burrows added: “I’m really excited to get started. It was frustrating at times last season but I think I’ll be given more of a chance this season.

“I’m looking forward to showing the fans what I can do.”

Strachan added defender Liam Marshall to his squad last week having worked with the 18-year-old at Peterborough, and the head coach is continuing to talk to existing Ilkeston players as well as consider which of those interested in coming to the New Manor Ground will be the best fit.

He said: “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest we’ve had from players who are keen to come to Ilkeston having heard so many good things about the club.

“It’s encouraging and means I can be quite selective as to who we look at during pre-season which in turn will raise the quality of the squad.

“I’ve seen lots of DVDs of games from last season so am aware of the abilities of many of last season’s squad. It’s likely I’ll need to see many of them train and play before I can make a definite decision, but having already secured three or four I’m very keen to tie more down when possible. That said, they all know that there is a lot of interest from players wanting to come to the club so they could well be fighting for their places and I’ll want to retain those who show the right commitment to the cause.”

The Robins’ pre-season schedule is virtually complete. Home games with Sheffield United (July 18) and Chesterfield (July 28) were agreed as part of the Che Adams, Kieran Wallace and Rai Simons transfer deals, while Strachan’s former club Peterborough will send a team on July 11 and Bedworth United will visit on July 25.

Away games at Rossington Main (July 23), Basford United (Aug 4) and Belper Town (Aug 8) are also agreed.

Strachan said: “I’m happy with the schedule we’ve arranged. Most of the games should be well balanced and give us lots of time on the ball which is how I prefer it to be, and with us being full-time there is also scope to get some more daytime matches arranged so we can have a good look at potential signings.

“It’ll depend on how quickly I can get a squad I’m happy with and how fit they are, but as things stand the schedule of games will suit us very well.”