Matlock staying patient in search for new hitman

Matlock Town joint manager Craig Hopkins
Matlock Town joint manager Craig Hopkins

As Matlock Town prepared for a return to pre-season training this Saturday, joint boss Craig Hopkins said patience was the key to replacing top scorer Marcus Dinanga.

Loanee Dinanga has returned to Burton Albion after his 34 goals helped the Gladiators to a ninth-place finish, just six points outside the play-off places.

However, Hopkins said he felt the quality of the rest of the side were the reason Dinanga had so many chances to tuck away and was in no rush to replace him with another loan striker yet.

“Marcus did really well for us but only because the players around him created so many chances,” said Hopkins.

“We scored 111 goals and he scored 34 which is about 30 per cent of them.

“We need someone now to replace that 30 per cent and we are quite confident we can do that. If it was 50 per cent then I think we’d have a problem.”

Hopkins said the club were in no rush to do that and would not get involved in silly auctions.

“We won’t be able to do anything until the start of the season as that is when the professional clubs have had their young players in for pre-season training, watched them in pre-season games and decide if they are available to go out on loan.

“Then we will make a few phone calls and see who is available.

“It is on a bit of a backburner right now and we have to be patient.”

The Gladiators have already secured two new players and are talking to another six or seven with two or three of those expected to sign.

“If we can sign five new players this summer we will be quite happy,” said Hopkins. “We are being patient as you get more bang for your buck later in pre-season.

“At the start of the summer you get players playing clubs against each other and we don’t want to get involved in that. You get better value if you are patient.”

On the two players already secured, he added: “We are nor releasing names yet as we can’t sign them until July 1st, though they will be training with us from this Saturday.

“They are both good, young lads – young and hungry which is what we look for. Both could be good players for us. It will just be down to how much they want to be a part of it and if they are willing to work as hard as the team did last season. If they do they will be good additions.”

Hopkins added: “Our main priority was to keep what we had and add to it and, although a couple have left, we have managed to keep 90 per cent of the squad.”

For now the players confirmed for next season will begin a gruelling pre-season on Saturday.

“I just can’t wait for the season to get started now.

“I still get the same buzz for pre-season but it’s not quite the same for a manager as a player. As a player you are dreading the running but as a manager you are just trying to make sure you cover all your bases and have got what you need.

“It will be non-stop for the next six weeks.”