As Hucknall Town look to complete their complement of strikers for the new season, they have had a double lift from two of last season’s forwards.
Matt Brian will be fit to start the new season after a scan on his knee revealed no lasting damage while Monserrat international Jaylee Hodgson, 37, has looked sharp in training after struggling to hit top form last season due to lack of full fitness from taking a break from the game.
“Matt Brian has now signed,” said manager Andy Graves.
“He had his scan results on Monday and they’ve given him the all-clear, so he can now get back to full fitness which is good.
“He did his knee in the first half of the cup final. We took him off straight after half-time and he has been struggling with it.
“He’s had it in a brace and then had the scan. But there is no damage inside the knee and it’s settled down so he trained last night. Matt now just needs to get his fitness pre-season.
“Also Jaylee Hodgson has signed. He didn’t join us until after Christmas after being out for a year or more, taking some time out of football.
“He is now looking sharper than when he first came. He did hit the floor running but then fitness did start to tell a bit.
“But you can’t knock his pedigree, holding the record as his country’s top international goalscorer. Hopefully we will see more from him this year.”
Graves was hoping to announce a major signing of a striker this week but the deal has not yet been completed.
“I am hoping he will sign this Saturday, but we do have other irons in the fire,” he said.
“We have some interest from a couple of lads who have played a couple of levels higher for one reason or another.
“I don’t really want to say a great deal about them. I know it’s a bit cloak and dagger but other teams could get wind of it.
“Fingers crossed the striker we wanted will sign. I am hoping he’s there Saturday. If is doesn’t happen Saturday he could one who is blowing hot and cold.
“If he comes we’ll see how enjoys training and then have another chat. We’ve spoken already and he sounded fairly positive but you don’t know what has happened in the meantime.
“He’s been away on holiday and he may have had offers from somewhere else.”
Graves added: “We had another striker down last night who bagged four in a little short game we had and he looked quite promising.
“He impressed and we will now see him in a game situation on Monday night against Real when we intend to play a lot of the trialists along with some of the reserve lads who can possibly step up to play in the first team.
“We do like to start new lads in the reserves so we can have a look at them rather than throwing them in at the deep end.
“We potentially have four or five strikers in the two squads we need to keep ticking over and I’ve told them it’s dog eat dog. Whoever performs in the pre-season games will get the opportunity to start on 5th August.
“I am sure someone else will spring up between now and the season as a lot of these players train with other clubs and have a look round first before they commit. We have to be a bit patient.”
First on the injury list from Hucknall’s return to training is captain Joe Atkinson.
“We had another good training session last night, apart from the skipper splitting his head open and needing five stitches,” said Graves.
“But he should be all right for the first proper pre-season game next Thursday against Coalville.
“It was just a clash of heads when we were doing some zonal play, just five minutes from the end as well. It was one of those things. But he is fine.
“All the sessions so far have been absolutely brilliant. I can’t fault them fitness-wise.
“Everything is looking pretty positive. There’s not one player I don’t think couldn’t potentially step up if needed.
“But they have to force out the ones who already have a strong hold on a first team place.
“There are some in the reserves, though, who will push them and we have plenty of competition for places.”
Hucknall are at home to Real United on Monday (7.45pm) with the first big test next Thursday at home to Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division side Coalville Town (7.45pm).