Murray signing spree continues ahead of Burton trip

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Adam Murray hopes to complete at least two more signings before Saturday’s trip to Burton Albion, including a deal to land Oxford United centre half Michael Raynes.

The 27-year-old is a free agent after recently choosing to leave Oxford, where he amassed 82 appearances during a two-and-a-half year spell.

Raynes, who hails from Greater Manchester, has also appeared for Stockport County, with whom he won promotion from League Two in 2007/08, Scunthorpe United and Rotherham United during his career.

Murray said: “We’re just crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s now. We’re virtually there, so it should be done in time for Saturday.

“Michael’s got Football League experience and I think he’s played in just under 300 League games, which is a massive thing to our group. He is an organiser and a leader. We need that bit of experience and nous in the dressing room.”

Murray has been working flat out to freshen up the squad this week with five players leaving and four coming in so far, all of whom look to be good quality, despite some fans saying Murray would not have the contacts to become a manager.

“It’s something that makes me laugh,” he said. “They say I am the youngest manager in the Football League at 33 so I don’t know anyone.

“I find it quite comical as I have been in the professional game for 18 years and I would like to think I have made a few friends and a good number of contacts in that time. If they need to be used, they will be used.”

Murray said it was possible other current players may still go out as he wheels and deals. But, despite being a rookie boss, he said more experienced managers would not be able to pull a fast one on him.

“I have had a couple of phone calls about our players and there may a bit of movement,” he said.

“Some think I am young and naïve and try one on you. I may be young but I am not stupid. I have enjoyed it.

“It has been a very busy week. But we had some plans in place and I have had my eye on a few things in different areas, so we were able to move quickly.

“I wanted to get a lot done early to give players time to settle and gel as we need to get points on the board.

“More than anything, we have signed good people. People who are reliable and can carry out their duties. They have experience of playing in the Football League and been successful. Most important, they are players of good ability.”

Murray is particularly delighted to have secured the signature of experienced central midfielder Ricky Ravenhill to perform Murray’s former role in the middle of the park.

“He is my age and very level-headed,” said Murray. “He is very experienced and an organiser. Ricky is not scared to pull people about. He can put his foot in and is also comfortable on the ball.

“He is a good all-rounder and captain material.

“When he went to Northampton last year, they needed points on the board and they ended up second in the form table near the end of the season. He played a big part in it and is very influential.

“I won’t be involved for the foreseeable future as day to day I am so hands on I feel me going back into the group would be detrimental to them. I have been having sausage sandwiches for breakfast for the last week which wouldn’t help!

“My mind wouldn’t be right to be playing. I couldn’t demand standards from them with me not in top shape. I have a great variety of midfielders available right now.”

After almost two weeks without a game, Stags return to action on Saturday away to a Burton side that sit second in the table and haven’t conceded at home in their last four games.

The Brewers, now managed by Dutch star Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, have won five and drawn two of their last eight.

Murray said: “Over the last couple of weeks the boys have been battered, physically and tactically and they have responded really well. For me, standards have gone up in training.

“Without doubt Burton are the most organised and efficient team in the League. They are very hard to break down and we will have to be on our mettle.

“In their last four home games they have not conceded a goal which shows what they are about.”

Murray could have as many as six new players available to him, but won’t be pitching all of them in at once, though former Burton striker Billy Kee will be desperate for a debut on his old stomping ground.

“We are going to have to get everyone up to speed,” he said. “We have signed some very good players, but the reason we were able to sign them was because they were not getting football elsewhere.

“At the moment, they are not going to come in at 200mph. We have got to be wary of that. We have to remember we have 23 games still to go, it’s not just about Saturday.

“We will be making changes on Saturday. How many we will just have to wait and see.

“We need points whether we play the beautiful game or smash the ball into the box. I have a way I want to play, but it won’t happen overnight.

“In the last couple of games we have reverted back a bit to how we were before as I felt the transition was going too quickly for my liking and players were getting caught out a bit.”

In the meantime Murray will continue to strengthen his squad and said he could bring in another forward player, but denied reports that Burton centre half Ian Sharps was about to sign.

“Ian Sharps is a good player and we have made contact with Burton about him,” said Murray. “But at the moment nothing is happening. He is someone who I think would be a good addition to this group.

“Forward-wise, we do have Alex Fisher back with us in the next seven days. I have done some attacking work with him and Billy Kee and he’s looking good.

“But there may also be one coming in in an attacking area, someone who can play as a winger or up front.”