Lions all set for return to action

Glen Clarence
Glen Clarence

Manager Glen Clarence believes Heanor Town are looking in good shape ahead of their opening pre-season friendly on Thursday night.

The Lions head to Blidworth Welfare for their first match of the summer, with the squad having returned to training last week.

And with plenty of new faces to run the rule over, Clarence is looking forward to seeing his team in action.

He said: “We’ve had quite a few key players leave the club over the summer so replacing some of them will be a key job.

“Nathan Benger and Kieran Debrouwer are both taking up options to play for clubs nearer their home and work while Joe McCormack has signed for AFC Mansfield, Joe Naylor has gone to Shirebrook and Jay Cooper has left too.

“There are clubs at lower levels than us offering sometimes double what we can offer in terms of money and we just can’t compete with that.

“So whereas before we’ve tried to have six or seven experienced players in the team, we may have to limit that to two or three and build the rest of the team with talented local youngsters, of which there are plenty as emphasised by the amount we used in the second half of last season and how well they did.

“A good amount of those will be with us again, including players like Alex Brown who has just turned 18 and who has played about 60 games for us.

“We’ve got the experienced players signed up who we wanted to keep, now it’s just a case of finding players in the key positions, with the priority being goalkeeper and striker at the moment given who has left.”

Following Thursday’s game there will be a week-long gap before the next friendly at Teversal on July 13. They will then travel to Eastwood CFC two days later and Clifton All Whites on July 18 before the first home game against Mansfield Town on July 20.

Visits to Holbrook Sports (July 22), Kimberley MW (July 25) and South Normanton Athletic (July 29) follow before the last friendly at home to Matlock Town on August 1.

Clarence added: “With the nature of the division we’re in, particularly the fact there is only one promotion spot and no play-offs, there are lots of teams chucking big money at it.

“We can’t do that and are having to change our course accordingly, opting for youth and seeing what talent comes through.

“We’re picking up some good lads and I’m encouraged by the quality available. We need to give these lads a chance before others do and maybe that in turn will make them more loyal towards us in the future.”