United boss Steven Pressley confirmed at his Tuesday afternoon press conference that he was pleased with the January transfer window activity so far, but hinted that there could still be more to come as he looks to build a squad ready to take on a push for promotion.
“I’m quite satisfied with the group at this moment in time and I have to say that the attitude of all of the players is excellent,” he said. “We said at the weekend that an already good group of players needed reinforcements and we’ve gone some way to achieving that.
“I think it’s really important that we get competition for places in every area and all of our players must be ready to play their part. The thing with new arrivals is that the players already in the dressing room get a lift.
“When you see a host of players walk through the door you think to yourself, hang on a minute, we really are serious about what we want to do here. It’s important we send the right signals to our current group and the quality of the new signings will have done that.”
“We still hope to bring in another couple,” he confirmed. “The good thing is that the players, especially in the last couple of weeks when we’ve been really thin on the ground, have performed exceptionally well and got themselves a couple of really good results.
“However, it was always going to be important to bolster the squad and if we can get another two in, I think we’ll be in a really good position to mount a serious push.
“I have to say, we’re really pleased with what we’ve done thus far. David [Holdsworth] has worked hard with the board to make funds available for us to be able to do this and I think they deserve credit for that.
“Coming into this club I was aware that I would have the opportunity to sign players, but I suppose I didn’t envisage the opportunities that have been created. It’s really positive for the supporters because I think the expectation wasn’t there that funds would be available to sign these players, but David has worked hard on that.
“With any transfer window it doesn’t always fall into place when and how you hope, and sometimes it does take time to get the right players. Time will tell if these are the right players but, on paper, I would suggest that we have recruited the players who are suited for this team.
“We’re pleased with the business we’ve done and, as I’ve said, I’m hoping we’re going to do more. Thus far we’ve brought in four who were very high on our list and you don’t always get your targets, so that’s good for us.”
With the news on defender Gary Liddle’s knee injury possibly not as bad as first feared he also confirmed that, with the arrival of Peter Grant on Tuesday, things are looking just about as he would want them to look in the defensive area of the squad.
“We’re currently working on a number of deals but I’m not sure now on the importance of another defender,” he commented. “Gary Liddle is making good progress and if he’s ok then I think we’re fine in that area. We have a number of players like him who are quite versatile and who can cover a number of positions.
“Gary is a player who has a really strong mentality and he’s desperate to play. We’re hoping he’ll be back and training with us on Monday. Macaulay [Gillesphey] has his operation today [Wednesday] and that’s disappointing for him and us because he’s had a good season. But that’s why it was important to get Peter Grant in.
“You never say never, so another defender is still a consideration, but at this moment in time I hope we’ll be fine in that area. We just want to get ourselves into a position where we don’t find ourselves short.
“What I will say is that I’m pleased with the way the back four have performed and it’s very difficult at this stage to bring in a suitable loan player that doesn’t want to come in and immediately play. It’s a difficult scenario, and this is why it’s a tough window, because everyone you speak to has to be coming here to play.
“That won’t always be the case, particularly if you have a winning team, as we have here, because you have to respect the players who are already playing well, doing the job and wearing the shirt with pride.”
One target still up in the air is Rotherham striker Jerry Yates, who is still a top target for United’s new boss.
“Yates is somebody we are keen to bring back and, working with David, we’re having to juggle a couple of balls just now with that in mind,” he explained. “The situation right now is that he’s our main target, but you also have to have a fall back.
“It’s a waiting game with him. I heard rumours the other day that they were close to signing a player and I thought, yep, maybe, here we go - but I haven’t heard anything else. We respect their situation because they have to look after themselves as a club, a little bit like us.
“If they get the right player in then hopefully he’ll come here off the back of that. We have to have other targets lined up because we do have to make sure we don’t end up with nothing. Deadline day could be a very interesting day, but we’ll get a feel for it as time goes on.
“Tommy Wright is in touch with a number of staff members at Rotherham, so I think they’ll give him a good steer on things.”
With all of the activity so far incoming, we wondered if there had been any interest from other clubs in our own crop of in-form players.
“There have been no approaches at all for our players and I’m pleased about that,” he told us. “The lads who were told they could go elsewhere are part of what we’re doing here, as far as I’m concerned.
“Every player who isn’t in the picture would like to move to get games, but I have to consider us as a club and the importance of us having a very competitive squad. I can’t guarantee everybody game time, but everybody will contribute in one way or another.
“I’ll say this again, some of the players who have come in are going to have to work hard to get in the team. There are no guarantees here and if a player stakes his claim it’ll be up to others to dislodge him.”
But the manager confirmed that one player who could possibly seek to get football elsewhere is popular midfielder Jason Kennedy, who has now returned to full fitness following a long battle against injury.
“I spoke to Jason and he’s training every day here,” he said. “It wasn’t easy for him over the festive period because he probably didn’t train or get the number of games he would have liked.
“He’s certainly getting up to speed and we had quite a good conversation, and he was keen to possibly go out and get some football under his belt. His contract is up at the end of the season and sometimes in football you can be forgotten very quickly.
“Jason is absolutely fit but I think, for him and his career, that he feels he needs to be playing football for the next three or four months so that people are aware of him, certainly with a view to looking at next season.
“We totally understand that and between now and the window closing, if the right opportunity comes for Jason, and it’s right for him, then we’ll allow him to go out and play.”
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