The opening of the winter transfer window is now just a week away, and manager Keith Millen confirmed that the work is being done in the background ahead of what will be an important month.
“We’ve been looking at how we can strengthen the squad in January ever since I got to the club, to be honest,” he told us. “That’s been ongoing, but it obviously gets more intense the nearer you get to it.
“I would say we still have a lot of spinning plates at the moment. Not many people are really wanting to commit to any agreements, and I think you’ll also find that some of the bigger teams will keep hold of some of their players because of Covid and the fact they’re losing players to that.
“Certainly the Premier League clubs will be looking to hold some back just to protect themselves, so that will be a harder market for us at the moment, I would think.”
“I prefer to sign players on permanent deals anyway, because they’re coming into the club to be part of it,” he added. “It’s not ideal to have too many loans, they know they’re going to be going back to their clubs.
“To try and get that balance of permanent signings, it’s normal that the January market is an expensive market when it comes to permanents. That’s the downside of it.
“I think the nearer we get to January the tougher it’s going to be, because of the Covid factor and clubs wanting to keep hold of players, as we said earlier. I think that will come into the equation.
“It might be the case that more deals are done closer to the end of January, hopefully when everything settles down a bit and clubs decide, go on, you can go and play now.
“There’s a lot of considerations we have to look at with players now. We’re speaking to a lot, trying to keep our options open. I’d love to get a couple in first week of January, we’re still trying to do that.
“Whether that happens or not we’ll have to wait and see. If it doesn’t we’ve got to carry on with what we’re doing.”
Part of the ongoing work includes networking, and keeping an ear to the ground, with contacts around the game a rich source of information.
“Your contacts are always important, of course they are, and you do try to call in a few favours from people you know around the game,” he confirmed. “But you’re not just dealing with the clubs and the managers these days, there are the agents as well, and they quite often have the biggest influence on where their player is going to go.
“We have to stay in contact with the agents probably more than we do with the clubs. David [Holdsworth] is working really hard behind the scenes, talking to a lot of people, and we’ve identified what we need and we have our targets.
“It’s important that we have more than one option so that you can follow up on two or three other options if your first target doesn’t come off.”
And with the latest on keeper Mark Howard, who is out of contract next month, he said: “The talks are advancing. It’s not like we’re not carrying on discussions. We are still talking.
“Nothing’s been agreed yet. He knows where I stand, what my thoughts are, and it’s just trying to get the balance of something he’s happy with and the club’s happy with.
“As soon as anything gets agreed I’ll make sure you know.”