Keeper coach Dan Watson confirmed over the weekend that he’ll be staying with the club as part of new manager John Sheridan’s backroom staff for the 2018/19 campaign.
A popular member of staff, who has made no secret of his adopted passion for the club since joining just before Christmas 2017, he said: “As we all know, there have been a few changes over the summer, so it’s obviously good to get it all sorted and over the line.
“I love the club, I’m happy being here, and it’s good that we can now concentrate on the football.”
“John [Sheridan] has been great, to be honest, and we’ve got on well together from day one. We’d spoken on the phone before last week, but his feet hadn’t touched the floor at that time, so we left the finer details until we got back to work.
“It was great to hear that he wanted me to stay, he said he was happy with what I was doing, so it was just down to getting bits and pieces sorted out. It’s now a case of continuing with what I was doing last season.
“There’s a good feeling about the place and we’re looking forward to getting on with it. Everything is positive and the coaching staff have clicked together as if we’ve been working together for years. That can only be good for the lads out on the field.”
Saturday morning brought the first session of ball and glove work for the keepers and it was a welcome return to the bespoke drills for new arrival Joe Fryer, in on loan from Boro until June next year.
“It was the first keeper skills session because we’ve had a couple of days of the lads doing a bit of running,” he explained. “It’s been a good introduction and it sets us off for getting on with things.
“Obviously that’s with a new face in the building, in Joe Fryer, and he’s a keeper who knows what the league is about, having played at Stevenage last season and Hartlepool the season before.
“We’ve been able to have a chat, he knows what I’m expecting of him, and he’s a very positive young player. We’re still at the stage where he’s having a look at me, and he’ll be feeling a bit tentative, because that’s how it always is when you work under a new coach.
“I’ve been open and honest with him. I’ve made it clear what’s required and he knows I’ll always be there for him and the other keepers if I’m needed. He’ll have demands put on him, but they’ll be controlled demands. The bottom line for all of the keepers is that they have to work hard.”
“Joe is happy with all of that,” he continued. “As I say, it’s nothing new to him. He knows what first team football is about, so he’s a little bit further up the hill than Jack Bonham was when he started with us.
“Competition is needed for him, that goes without saying, and we’re working on something as we speak. Hopefully something will come off with that over the course of this week. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.”
“We’re a club that likes healthy competition and that’s why we’ve just had the youth lads in training with us as well,” he commented. “It’s up to us to build a nice rapport at the same time as making sure everybody wants the starting place. If we don’t get the shirt we support the other person and we make sure we’re doing everything we can, always with results in mind.
“For somebody like Ben McLachlan – Saturday was his third day of his scholarship and he was training with the first team already. It can be a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ moment, but once we get that out of him and he settles down he’ll be fine.
“Even at that age the quality has to be there, and I enjoy working with these boys. It’s good for them and us because it creates the same requirements at every level of the club.”
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