'Keeping a settled squad will be key to Ilkeston Town's hopes'
Keeping a settled squad will be vital to Ilkeston Town’s hopes of winning promotion.
That’s the verdict of defender Joe Maguire, who still painfully remembers the former Ilkeston’s play-off final defeat to Curzon Ashton five seasons ago.
The Robins topped the Northern Premier League Premier Division table at one point before tailing off after losing key players.
“If you keep your squad that is massive,” Maguire said.
“The last time I was here we were right up there. We had Che Adams, Ash Hunter and Kieran Wallance and we lost them all in January to league clubs. We also lost a few younger lads.
“We were top of the league and flying, then we lost the play-off final, so losing players can have a big impact.”
But Maguire, who is contracted to the New Manor Ground until May 2021, feels confident that player departures will be less of an issue this time around.
“A lot of teams are not going to run the risk of paying £50,000 for a player at this level if the pandemic is likely to come back next year, it could backfire on them,” he added.
“It is always positive to have the key players under contract.
Non-contract players can get out when they want, but if the key players are under contract you can keep the base of your squad at this level.”
He is also hopeful that Ilkeston’s ambitious budget will attract quality players from higher up the football ladder.
“The budget is huge in this league,” he said. “If you can get players from the league above, or the league above that, for not much more money, then all of a sudden you have Conference North players in this league.
“If you can pay the money to get lads that are 26 plus or so, at this level, they are unlikely to make the step up to a higher level.
“You look at that and think you will be above a lot of teams, it’s just simple facts.
“Ilkeston is in a good area to attract players from Sheffield, Birmingham and Doncaster and those sort of areas.
“It is a good base, a good ground and Ilkeston is a good club. I feel Ilkeston has a good chance of progressing again.”
The former Gainsborough and Buxton centre-half, who is currently training to become a football agent with his brother Harry’s agency, also praised the Town faithful for their backing throughout.
He said: “The fans are the best around. I have been up and down the country at this level and Ilkeston have outclassed them all.
“They are by far the best fans I have played under and that is saying something when you look at Boston and Nuneaton.
“The amount of fans they get still is crazy. There were 500-600 at games for mid table last season. It’s madness.
“If you are up there next year you can see close to a 1,000 coming, They are great fans who get right behind you.
“They come in good numbers away as well. We went to Newcastle Town last season and there was a good 100 or so there.
“They pushed us over the line to win that and it really can make a big difference. They are brilliant.”