THE KEY to the first clean sheet of Des Lyttle’s reign as Hucknall Town manager was another shrewd signing from a Football League club.
For on the eve of Town’s eyecatching 3-0 victory over Lincoln United last Saturday, Lyttle used his vast network of contacts to recruit a new defender.
Lyttle got in touch with former Wales striker Dean Saunders, whom he played alongside during his playing days at Nottingham Forest.
Saunders is now manager of one of Forest’s npower Championship rivals, Doncaster Rovers, and agreed to let The Yellows have teenage defender Liam Wakefield on loan. The upshot was an assured debut by Wakefield and a much more solid Town backline.
“I pride myself on clean sheets,” said Lyttle. “But we had been gifting too many goals.
“Dean rates Liam very highly and will probably offer him a contract at Doncaster soon. But he wants him to get more experience of men’s football.
“I thought he had a really good debut. He won his headers and was very solid. He looked a proper centre-half.”
Wakefield’s arrival at Watnall Road follows that of similar loan signings Corey Gregory and Lewis Williamson, youngsters from Sheffield United and Notts County. As well as Armstrong, Lyttle has also recruited midfielders Anthony Gregory and Jermaine Hollis.
But he insists that players who have lost their places, such as Romaine Graham and Kieran Walker, are still important members of his squad. And he is also more than willing to give promising youngsters in the club’s reserve-team, such as Sam Sims and Joel Goodacre, a chance.
“We are trying to build a squad that has good competition for places,” said Lyttle.
“Sam has a nice left foot and Joel is a tenacious midfielder who likes to put himself about. Both will be training with the first-team squad from now on and, hopefully, as the season progresses, they will be given opportunities.”
The strength of Lyttle’s squad will be tested this weekend when they face two away games inside three days — against Leicestershire strugglers Quorn tomorrow (Saturday) and against Derbyshire outfit New Mills on Monday night.
Top scorer Grant Ryan and midfielder Callum Loyd are suspended for the Quorn clash, while winger Aidan Brady and striker Phil Massingham are both battling to shrug off injuries that kept them out last Saturday.