‘Reds squad full of quality’

Josh Clackstone pictured in action for former club Hull City. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Josh Clackstone pictured in action for former club Hull City. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Alfreton Town boss Billy Heath believes he has a squad “full of quality” as he prepares his troops for the 2018/19 National League North campaign.

Heath has been busy in the market this summer as he goes about assembling a Reds squad equipped to deal with the rigours of a 42-game league season.

Defender Josh Clackstone is the latest player through the door at the Impact Arena, signing after his release from Championship club Hull City on a one-year deal.

Clackstone is a product of the Tiger academy and has been on the fringes of the first team for the past two seasons, making the subs bench on several occasions.

He has Football League experience after making eight appearances for Notts County during a loan move for the second half of the 2016/17 campaign.

And, after captaining Hull’s under-23s side, he was again allowed to go out on loan, this time gaining valuable minutes at Halifax Town in November 2017.

It was here where Heath, now Reds manager, got to see Clackstone up close and was impressed with what he saw from the versatile 21-year-old defender.

“Josh is a great player to bring in,” said Heath. “I had him on loan when I was at Halifax and he did impress. He has been at Hull for most of his career but has first team experience.

“He’s had experience in the Football League with Notts County and the Conference.

“He is another good player, he plays mostly at right-back but can go centre-half and can slot in as a right-sided centre-half.

“He is a valuable member of the squad and we won’t have the biggest squad in this league, but we have a squad full of quality and the lads can’t wait to get going.”

Heath’s side got their first run out of pre-season on Saturday when Doncaster Rovers visited the Impact Arena for a friendly fixture, which saw the visitors win 1-0.

“It was difficult conditions for both sides. It was really horrendous out there,” said Heath. “I’m disappointed with the goal - I think it was the only time we switched off in the game.

“I thought first half was really, really promising. We limited them to very little in the first half, I thought we had the best chances.

“We made a lot of changes in the second half, which is never great, and it took is 10-15 minutes to settle in to the game again.

“But overall I’m pleased with today’s work and what we’ve done.”

Alfreton host Scunthorpe United on Friday 13th July (7.45pm KO) and Buxton on Tuesday 17th July (7.45pm KO) in games two and three of their six-match pre-season schedule.

The Reds begin their 2018/19 National League North season on Saturday 4th August against Kidderminster Harriers.

“We’ve only had a short space of time (for pre-season) because the season starts so early.

“The pre-season games are coming earlier and earlier each season so we have had limited time.

“But I thought in particular first half we looked organised and we have experience at the back.

“They never caused us a great deal of problems. We defended the penalty box nice and narrow.

“The wide players did well as well, which we also talked about, I just thought we kept their chances to very few,” added Heath.