Manager Hughes begins squad rebuilding
CIRENCESTER TOWN manager Brian Hughes faces a radical change to his playing and coaching staff when the new football season begins.
The club has made a decision to no longer use players from Hartpury College, which have formed the nucleus of the side for a number of seasons, and Hughes will be without his right hand man Tony Dunne when the 2009/10 programme kicks off.
Town also plan to run a second team in one of the Hellenic Reserve Divisions.
In the last couple of campaigns, Hartpury pupils like Steve Davies, Russ Courtney, Scott Mason, Matt Shaxton and Lee Molyneaux have become first-team regulars, but Hughes said: “The bottom line is that the allegiance of the Hartpury lads lies elsewhere.
“We always have an issue about their availability for midweek games because they play on Wednesday and they now have their ties with the Forest Green Rovers reserve side.
“The club has therefore decided not to use Hartpury players in the coming season.”
That will inevitably leave openings for youngsters at the successful Cirencester Town/College Academy under Steve Lowndes.
“We are conscious of the fact that our own Academy needs promoting,” said Hughes, “so we have signed up all the second years and we are going to have a minimum of three lads, and maybe as many as five, involved in the match day squad every week.”
Hughes admitted that the loss of his assistant coach and physio Dunne would be a major blow.
“Dunny’s job in the RAF has taken him to Aylesbury during the week and I don’t think his family would be too pleased if he then disappeared with me to football when he is back at weekends,” said the manager.
“It is a massive shame he is not with us as he is the most enthusiastic man I have ever met in football.
“Kevin Willetts will now be joined on the coaching staff by Keith Knight, who I have known for a long time and played several games for us at the end of last season. And Tim Gregg comes in as physio.”
Ciren Town will also have what Hughes prefers to call a ‘development squad’ playing in the Hellenic League next season.
“It was thought that there was no avenue for the U16s to progress and that they would be better off in mens’ football rather than playing against other U18s,” said Hughes.
“Last year’s U16s management will take care of the side, which will also include first-teamers who are coming back from injury or need a game as well as triallists.”
Cirencester Town finished 14th in last season’s Southern League (Div 1 South & West) which has a new sponsor in drinks brand Zamaretto for the new season.
After some ruthless team rebuilding when Hughes returned to replace Adi Viveash, his side went on a superb New Year run which took them from relegation candidates to play-off possibles until injuries and suspensions caused the progress to stall towards the end of the campaign.
Hughes is keen to have a settled side early on in the programme this time.
“When pre-season training starts on July 2, I am expecting many of last year’s squad to be there, including Scott Griffin, Jamie Reid, Jason Welsh and Carl Brown, who I understand is now not going to Hartpury,” said Hughes.
“Lee Spalding has gone to become assistant manager at Highworth Town.
“Matt Williams and Tom King have not been offered extensions to their contracts, so I will be surprised if they return and I believe the Preece brothers (Callum and Brandon) have gone to Cheltenham Town.
“I am looking for a core of 15 players which will be bolstered by our own Academy lads and I have several players lined up to sign once we have got two or three of our pre-season games out of the way.
“Craig Curtis is back to full fitness now and we will also be looking at three Army lads who have moved to the area from Salisbury as well as a trio of young players released by Bristol City.”