Kirkwood hails progress as players begin training

Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood
Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood

Pre-season training got under way last weekend for Matlock Town players old and new in the build-up to new joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins’ first season in charge at Causeway Lane.

Saturday’s opening session was exclusively concentrated on fitness with the footballs coming out when the squad met up for a second time on Tuesday.

And Kirkwood is pleased with what he has seen so far.

He said: “Everyone’s reported back looking good, they’ve obviously looked after themselves. With last season’s lads we’ve kept on, the new lads (nine so far) and some trialists with Jack Siddall and Ashley Bartle from the reserves, we’ve had 20 lads there each session.

“A couple, Niall McManus and Jake Green who live away in London and Bristol at the moment, have our blessing to train with clubs local to them and come up for games.

“We’re delighted with how things are going, no disrespect at all to Mickleover but there’s a real difference in standard here this year. The tempo’s higher, the attitude’s better, everything’s more professional.”

Those nine additions mean Matlock have brought in virtually a whole new team so the pre-season training and games will prove crucial in the bedding-in process.

“We’ve eight good pre-season games, everyone’s grafting and working hard,” Kirkwood added,

“We’re not expecting miracles overnight and while we want to win the pre-season games as it’s a nice habit to get into, the results aren’t the be all and end all. It’s all about preparing thoroughly so we can hit the ground running when the league starts on August 13.”

It’s been a really quiet week on the signings front with no further additions to the squad, although that could well change during the next couple of weeks.

Kirkwood added: “Now we’re waiting for the pre-season games to come to see what we need. We’ve got our targets, at present we have cover in every position. We want to add a couple or so more, we’ll pick those up as we go along.”

A familiar face did return to Matlock this week as 38-year- old Adam Sollitt was installed as goalkeeping coach. Sollitt was a hugely popular figure after moving to the Gladiators from Worksop Town in 2010, going on to make 86 appearances in three seasons before leaving due to increased work commitments.

In other news, the Gladiators will host National League North Nuneaton Town on Friday, July 15 (7.30 pm) with admission set at £7 for adults, £4 for concessions with under 16s being admitted free.

Meanwhile, striker Danny Holland has joined Micky Harcourt at NCEL Premier Division Handsworth Parramore.