Eastwood squad takes shape ahead of first friendly

Eastwood Town’s squad continued to take shape this week as the Badgers players began to take part in competitive matches for the first time in pre-season.

Two behind-closed-door friendlies have given joint-managers Chris Shaw and Nick Hawkins plenty of food for thought, and helped them decide how to reduce the numbers who began the summer in training with the club.

And ahead of the first official friendly at Hednesford Town next Tuesday night, Hawkins says he has been pleased to have finally seen the players in match situations.

He said: “They were unofficial friendlies - one against a South Normanton side where both teams had lots of trialists, and another at Radcliffe Olympic which we won 6-0.

“There will be four or five players we’ll keep hold of to have a look at them against better quality sides, but we’ve made decisions on quite a few now and should have a squad of around 20 by the time the season starts.

“There will be good depth in the squad with at least two players in every position, which is important if you want to be successful.”

Hawkins confirmed the identities of many of the players who have agreed to play for Eastwood next season.

Those who have remained from the last campaign include goalkeeper Alex Malong and outfield players Danny Roberts, Adam Campbell, Paul Riley and Brad Munn.

New signings include Ashley Robinson (ex-Ilkeston), Martin Lench, Kieran Wells, Aaron Large, Ryan Hastie, Richard Wyman (South Normanton), Joe French (Hinckley), Gavin Hurren (Mansfield/Kidderminster), Ryan Whitehurst, Tristram Whitman, Carl Slater, Liam Garner and Liam Canavan (Boston/ Hinckley)

Goalkeeper Ian Deakin, who had initially agreed to return to Eastwood, has instead reportedly signed a two-year deal with League Two side Mansfield Town.

Meanwhile, in the draws for the two major cup competitions, Eastwood will face Loughborough Dynamo in the FA Cup preliminary round and Halesowen Town in the FA Trophy.

Hawkins. who reached the FA Cup third round proper as a player with Chasetown in 2008, added: “I’m really keen to get some good cup runs next season as they’re great for the players and for the club from a financial perspective.”