CARL ADAMS believes his summer influx of six new signings will provide know-how and excitement to his revamped Stratford Town squad.
The Town manager confirmed the arrival of former Leamington and Kettering goalkeeper Niall Cooper, full back Jordan Cullinane-Liburd from Redditch United, ex-Corby defender Edi Appleton and midfielders Will Grocutt from Kettering, Barry Fitzharris from Romulus and Trey Brathwaite from Solihull Moors.
The capture of Cooper will fill the gap left by hugely respected three-time player of the season Andy Kemp, who has decided to focus on his family.
The arrival of Grocutt will replace playmaker Michael McGrath who has left to join Hednesford Town.
Both Kemp and McGrath will leave big boots to fill but Adams is confident Cooper – a promotion-winner with Leamington – and Grocutt will soon slot in.
“It will be a big ask to follow Andy Kemp, who has been such a key player for the past few years, but Niall is as good as Kempy and he had won this league only a few seasons ago,” said Adams.
“Edi has also won this league with Corby in 2015 and he will provide a big vocal presence. That’s one thing we probably didn’t have last season but Edi is a real leader.
“Macca (McGrath) and Will are similar players but in some ways Will is move creative and hopefully he will get forward and score a few goals.
“Jordan Cullinane-Liburd has played at this level for a few years and Trey has been with Solihull and played in the Northern Premier with Barwell last season so he has got a bit of experience too. As a natural left-footer, he’ll give us a bit of balance.
“I had Barry as a youngster when I was manager at Coleshill and I’ve kept an eye on his progress. It’s going to be a step up for him but I think he could be a real gem.”
As well as the new faces, Stratford will also welcome back fit-again defender Guy Clark to the squad after he ended the season at Coleshill Town.
The centre back had been a huge influence in Stratford’s play-off promotion-winning squad but injury ruined last season.
“He was our best player when we got promoted and now he is back with us and raring to go,” said Adams. “He can been another huge presence for us.”
Jamie Sheldon, Richard Gregory, Edwin Ahenkorah, Dior Angus, Kieren Westwood, Liam Francis and Emmitt Delfouneso have also committed their futures to the DCS Stadium.
Stratford will start their pre-season training next Thursday (June 23) before they face a programme of eight friendlies, starting with Kidderminster Harriers at the DCS on July 9.