Ilkeston FC keen to strengthen ahead of season opener

editorial image

Ilkeston FC head coach Paul Holland is keen to further strengthen his squad before the new season kicks off on August 13.

Holland has made no secret of his desire to bring in an experienced midfielder and this remains a priority for the Robins, with Anton Brown among the list of targets.

He is someone Holland knows well from his time at Mansfield Town’s academy and holds hope of landing the former Alfreton, Corby, Harrogate and Nuneaton man.

And there maybe more with Holland revealing he would like to bring in “one or two” new faces in time for the visit of Stafford Rangers to the New Manor Ground.

He said: “I’m still looking to add a couple of new faces before the start of the new season. It’s been quiet for two or three weeks but there are irons in the fire.

“Anton Brown is still on my radar, as are two or three other players, if he doesn’t come then there are other people lined up to come in.

“There will definitely be one if not two new faces that come in before the start of the new season.

“I’m looking at anyone who can improve on what we’ve already got. I’d by stupid not to look at it. A bit of steel in centre midfield I’ve always said I’d like to have.

“He is my main target but there are other irons in the fire. I’m very confident that will happen.”

The club maybe in line for a cash boost if former player Che Adams moves on from Sheffield United, with reported interest from Birmingham City among others.

A sell-on clause was inserted into the deal that saw Adams, an England youth international, move to the Blades in November 2014.

And, although aware of the speculation, Holland said his attentions remain solely on preparing his squad for the rigours of Evo-Stik League Northern Premier season.

“You hear things but that’s of no importance to myself at the minute,” he said. “That’s obviously for the hierarchy at the football club to keep an eye on. At the minute all I’m interested in is the next day’s training and getting ready for that first game of the season.

“Che’s a great lad. He worked extremely hard at the football club while he was here and he deserves all the plaudits. We wish him every success in the future.

“If that does come in to the football club I might be knocking on the chairman’s door to try and stretch the budget that little bit further, any manager would be knocking on the chairman’s door to try and find that little bit extra if it does mean improving the football club.”

Holland was pleased with the performance his players gave to overcome a young Derby County X1 on Saturday and is looking forward to the start of the season.

“It was a great workout for us,” he said. “I don’t read too much into results but it’s always good to get a win. It helps to breed a winning habit, whether friendlies or league games.

“It was pleasing. It’s two weeks now until the important games start and it’ll be a busy two weeks. The lads know what I expect from them. It’s going to be hard work.

“The lads are buying into everything that we’re trying to do and I’m absolutely buzzing. The players are taking everything on board and that first game can’t come quick enough.

“We’ve got a good blend with the youngsters from last year and all different kinds of experiences in the mix. Everyone is buying into what we’re doing.

“We want to play a brand of football that’s not only pleasing on the eye but can also win matches. I know they can handle a football but they need to learn the nasty side of it.

“They are starting to do that and it takes a lot of hard work. You don’t achieve anything without hard work. At the minute the lads are buying into it as a squad, not just an eleven.”

The game saw a return of Lewis Walker and Holland believes the progress of both he and Adams offers encouragement to the young hopefuls in the Robins squad.

Yet the squad was brought back down to earth when they reported for training a couple of days later on Monday morning.

“We did a run the first day of pre-season and they did a run yesterday (Monday),” said Holland. “The fitness has definitely improved.

“Some of the lads might have expected an easy day after the win but it was probably one of their hardest days of pre-season so far.

“I wanted to test them mentally and see where they were, rather than plodding along and doing the norm. They took it on board and they are improving all the time.”