Hopkins: Competition for places starts now

Callum Lloyd is Matlock's latest signing, although he may not see action for a couple of months due to injury.
Callum Lloyd is Matlock's latest signing, although he may not see action for a couple of months due to injury.

Matlock Town joint boss Craig Hopkins this week warned his players that places are already up for grabs as they prepare to get their pre-season schedule underway.

Matlock were due to head to Shirebrook Town on Saturday but that fixture was cancelled on Wednesday morning due to both of the Shirebrook managers being unavailable.

As the Mercury went to press, Matlock were hoping to arrange a replacement fixture.

Speaking before the cancellation, Hopkins said he and fellow boss Glenn Kirkwood are pleased with the progress made in training so far.

“Tonight (Tuesday) they’ve all worked very hard for two hours and were dead on their feet at the end. We’ve had between 17 and 20 lads there each time and we’re really pleased with where we are but we’re ready for Saturday now, the players need to get some minutes under their belts.”

Matlock are likely to give game time to ‘three or four trialists’ this weekend, should they have a game, but their squad will not feature latest recruit, 30-year-old central midfielder Callum Lloyd.

Lloyd began his career at Mansfield Town when he made 41 Football League appearances between 2004 and 2007, scoring four goals.

After a short stay at Kettering, Lloyd moved to Hinckley United, scoring eight times in 71 appearances for the Knitters before joining King’s Lynn and then Hucknall Town.

After a spell at Rainworth, Lloyd joined Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood at Mickleover Sports where he was named player of the season as Mickleover were runaway champions of the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South in 2014/15.

Hopkins said: “Callum was the best player in the league that season but he unfortunately picked up a cruciate ligament injury last year, but he’s recovering well.

“He’ll be one for the future so to speak as he’ll probably be ready in about a couple of months from now. If everything goes well for him, he’ll be a really important player for us.

“We’re still looking for two or three more players but we’re really happy with how things have gone so far.

“You only have one chance to make a good first impression so the trialists will need to perform well quickly and show us just what they can do.”

Matlock’s first home friendly is next Friday night (July 15) against National League North Nuneaton Town (7.30pm).

Meanwhile, Craig Nelthorpe, who slotted in at both left back and in midfield last season, has joined Division One North side Scarborough Athletic.