Ins and outs at busy Hucknall Town

OUT -- Town's best player so far this season, Nathan Watson
OUT -- Town's best player so far this season, Nathan Watson

THE REVOLVING door is doing overtime as Hucknall Town dip deep into the transfer market after a sticky start for new boss Des Lyttle.

A 2-0 defeat at home to Stamford, managed by former chief Tommy Brookbanks, means Town have now lost all three games Lyttle has been in charge.

They also bowed out of the potentially money-spinning FA Trophy when licked 4-1 by Leek Town.

And with some players moving on, Lyttle and his director of football, Michael Johnson, are beginning to make plans to strengthen their squad.

They have even forged links with three professional clubs — Sheffield United, Notts County and York City, who have supplied new, young signings on season-long loans.

“There has been so much interest from players who want to come and join us,” revealed Lyttle.

“That is encouraging but I also want the lads who are still here to prove to me they are good enough.

“I don’t want to rip the team apart and start from scratch. Hopefully we won’t have to make too many changes.

“But if the current players can’t, or won’t, do it, I will bring in new faces as I see fit.”

As disclosed in last week’s Dispatch, the first of those new faces is experienced player/coach Craig Armstrong who, like Lyttle, is another former Nottingham Forest defender.

“Craig brings with him a wealth of experience and should be a good addition,” said Lyttle.

“I want him and captain Wayne Diuk to show the leadership we need because we have quite a young squad.”

Lyttle has also been joined by a new assistant manager in 33-year-old coach Martin Prentice, who was his number two at Tamworth last season.

As for new players, Town have been knocked back on two impressive signings they were hoping to finalise.

Former Notts County midfielder Jake Sheridan (25) has opted to stay at crisis-hit Eastwood Town, where he has been appointed caretaker assistant player/manager, alongside good friend Steve Istead.

And a temporary deal for York midfielder David McDermott (19) has fallen through because of transfer-window rules that mean he would not be able to return to Bootham Crescent until January.

Furthermore, Town have lost two key players who had been regulars this term under Brookbanks — attacking midfielder Nathan Watson and left-back James Jepson. Watson, who is attracting interest from Mansfield Town, has been re-united with his former boss at Stamford, while Jepson has moved on to Gresley Rovers. Young defender Joe Pheasant has also made the switch to Stamford.

Said Lyttle: “I am not going to stand in the way of players who want to leave. But it would have been nice for them to tell me to my face.

“I am having to get used to the seven-day rule at this level of football where other clubs can make an approach and the player can just walk away.

“We did everything we could to keep Nathan. We offered him a good wage and tried to put him on a contract.

“I explained to him that if he stayed here, we could get him a better move next time to a Conference club. But he’s a young lad and their heads get turned very easily.

“As for Jake, he was someone who could have lit up our team and given the younger lads someone to learn off. But it’s not to be at the moment.”

It’s not all been disappointment for Lyttle, however, because SIX new recruits have been acquired.

One is a permanent signing — 27-year-old midfielder Anthony Gregory from Eastwood Town — while the others are all on loan until the end of the season.

The pick is 18-year-old striker/winger Corey Gregory, who has been snapped up from Championship outfit Sheffield United.

Gregory has made several appearances for United’s reserve-team and also played in the FA Youth Cup final against Manchester United last term.

“He should bring a bit of quality and some experience of being at a Football League club, which ought to rub off on others,” said Lyttle.

The other four signings are also teenagers from pro clubs — defender Tom Allan (17) and midfielder Tom Platt (18) from York and 18-year-old left-sided duo, Nathan Fox and Lewis Williamson, from Notts County.

York are managed by former Forest and Notts star Gary Mills and ex-Yellow Darron Gee, who signed Lyttle as a player when they were at Tamworth.

And Allan and Platt are examples of the relationship Town are keen to build with The Minstermen, who are pushing hard for promotion back to the Football League.

Added Lyttle: “They are two up-and-coming lads who will be offered professional contracts by York at the end of the season.

“They are both well over six feet tall and good athletes. Gary wants them to get more experience of men’s football and thinks they will be good for us.

“I trust Gary’s judgement of players and he is willing to help us.”