Yellows squad all set to return

Andy Graves will welcome his players back to training on Saturday.
Andy Graves will welcome his players back to training on Saturday.

Hucknall Town’s players will return to pre-season training on Saturday with plenty to prove to boss Andy Graves as he plans for the new campaign.

Although Graves has been able to retain the majority of last season’s squad, he is keen to cast his eye over several potential new faces in order to strengthen the Yellows’ chances of securing promotion from step seven.

And he believes he will have a good pool of talent to choose from.

He said: “I’ve had lots of interest from players wanting to join up with us and a good few of those will come and train so we can have a look at them.

“We’ve also got a good idea of which players from last season’s reserve team might be ready to make the step up, as well as some from our Sunday side who couldn’t commit to Saturdays last season but have said they will be able to now.

“We found a gem in Jordan Phillips through that route last year and you never know what you might mind this time around.”

With a tough Central Midlands League South campaign set to follow once more, Graves says all at the club are determined to go one step further having just missed out on promotion last season.

He said: “We may have to look at how we do a few things and maybe toughen up a little bit when it comes to our attitude towards players having dual registration with other teams as we’d rather have more control over them and be able to protect them better.

“We’ll still have players who want to play on Sundays and you’re limited to what you can do in terms of stopping that, but we have a Sunday side too so hopefully lots can play for that team.”

Despite rumours to the contrary in recent months, it seems the Central Midlands League will retain its format of a north and south division for the coming season, although the reserves division has been abolished in favour of a new ‘Division One’ which seems a merger with the Midland Regional Alliance.

Graves said: “A single division looked likely at one point which might have been beneficial on a few levels but it would seem it’ll be a case of as you were next season.

“The league chairman resigned this week which is a shame as he was a good guy, but the AGM takes place next Monday so we’ll see if any more changes take place.”

In terms of his squad’s fitness, Graves hopes his players will return to training in good shape, or else face a tough time from their manager in getting back to full fitness.

He added: “If they’re not as fit as me they’re in trouble, and I’ve got 30 years on them!

“I’ll be working as hard as they do and if they’re not up to it they’ll have some hard work on to get in shape.

“We’ve got lots of plans put together and a very structured schedule to get everyone back up to scratch.

“The first friendly against Real United will likely see some of the trialists and those we want to look at stepping up from other teams take part, but our more regular players will be featuring in the next one against Coalville, along with those who have impressed against Real.”