Competition for places is very much in the minds of Matlock Town joint bosses Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood as they assemble their squad for the coming EvoStik Premier League season.
Adam Yates and Ted Cribley had already agreed contracts and key midfielders Joe Doyle-Charles and Michael Williams followed suit late last week.
Then the Gladiators announced the of 19 year-old winger Luis Rose who was a star player in a bleak season for Ilkeston.
Left sided defender or midfielder Rory Coleman (26) has joined Matlock from Coalville Town while six foot plus academy and reserve team player Max Hunt signed first team forms. With midfielder Callum Lloyd now fully fit after a serious knee injury despite being on the books last season, Matlock could be said to have a fourth new signing.
On the debit side, the only player who has definitely left is top scorer Marcus Dinanga, who has returned to Burton Albion after a marvellous season, which brought him 34 league and cup goals.
Niall McManus’ future is unclear having now completed his studies at Sheffield University and returned to his London home. McManus though, is still under contract at the DCJ Group Arena.
“Having got Adam Yates and Ted Cribley tied up, it was brilliant to see Willo and Joe sign their contracts,” said Hopkins.
“We’ve managed to keep nearly everyone from last year so we’re chuffed. It gives us a good base and means that most of the players know what’s expected of them. “Willo and Joe did really well but Cleveland Taylor and Callum Lloyd will push them for the two central midfield places.
“Cleveland’s come back looking really fit and sharp, he’s a tremendous talker as well. Callum’s back to full fitness, when me and Kirky won the First Division South with Mickleover, Lloydy was the best player in the league.”
Coleman had a brief spell at Matlock at the start of the 2012/13 season and again his arrival highlights the fight for places in the starting line up.
Hopkins added: “Rory plays down the left and scores more than his fair share of goals for a defender as he’s got an excellent left foot. It means with Jake (Green) and Marsy (Liam Marsden), we’ve got three players going for two positions, Jake also being able to play on the right.
“Then there’s Max Hunt whose big and strong, got a lovely touch and could be a great player.”
Matlock’s opening pre season game is at home to near neighbours Chesterfield tonight (Thursday 7.30 pm) when Hopkins says two trialists will feature.
“We’ve had five good sessions including last Saturday when we had an hour of ball work followed by a good session in the gym. The lads have come back looking really fit, pre season’s gone well so far and we’re looking forward to the game on Thursday when we can see how we’re doing.
“We’ll have two trialists in and hopefully there’ll be a big crowd, Chesterfield will field their new signings and it’ll be a nice night.”
The teams will be playing for the Vertu Toyota Cup which will be presented to the winning captain by Vertu Toyota General Manager Paul Jenkinson.