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MANAGER: It's added to an already good group

Paul Simpson on this week's transfer window activity

5 August 2022

A flurry of first-week-of-the-season transfer activity saw midfielder Jayden Harris and striker Jack Stretton join the Blues, and manager Paul Simpson confirmed his delight at having made the captures at his Thursday afternoon press conference.

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“It’s always good to start the season with a win, and there are a lot of good things that came out of last weekend for us to build on,” he said.

“It’s added to the feelings of positivity and getting a couple of signings across the line has added to that.

“I’m delighted with the two lads who agreed to join us. Hopefully they’ll prove to be really good additions to the squad.”

“I’ve talked a lot about the fact I wanted new faces through the door and it just happens that two have been able to come in this week,” he added. “I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to get Jayden and I’m thankful that the club have been prepared to back me on that.

“They’re trusting my judgement on these things and that’s a good thing to have. It’s on me to make sure that I get more of these decisions right than wrong.

“We’ve had to pay an undisclosed fee but he’s a player who I think has got real potential to go on again.

“All signings are a gamble, everything we do is a bit of a gamble. I just have to hope it’s a good gamble, it’s a worthwhile one and we all benefit. I think it’s down to hard work now.

“The harder we all work the luckier we’re going to get. It’s up to Jayden to work hard, get a bit of luck, same with everybody else who’s in the squad - they’ve got to do all they can to be the best professionals to make our club the best it can be.

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“I think he can make this step. I saw him a few years ago when he was at Fulham coming through to their 23s from the academy, probably about the same time that I was watching Sonny for my England groups.

“I know what he’s about, he’s had to take a step back to Aldershot to get first-team football. He’s shown that he’s prepared to do that, and he's put in some really good, solid, strong performances.

“Coming to us, it’s another step up in the level and we’re hoping he can show us what he’s all about in League Two.

“He’s a good athlete, he’s a big, box-to-box midfielder who has good ability. He’s been brought up the right way with Fulham, and I really like the way they do things there with their young players.

“The challenge for him is to show us he can do it here. I want him to work his way into our team and stay there.”

Speaking about Jayden’s release from Fulham after having spent such a long time at the club, he commented: “You have a choice when you’re released from a big football club.

“You can sulk and blame everybody and everything, or you can knuckle down and get on with it. He’s done that, and this is another opportunity for him now.

“He’s a Croydon lad but when I spoke to him about the distance he said, no, I don’t care about the location, I want to play in the football league.

“This is a great opportunity, he’s here, even though I think he did get a shock with how long the train journey was. We’ll work with him, we’ve got to make him physically stronger and get him used to this level.”

Also through the door, of course, is Jack Stretton, a real prospect who joins on-loan from Derby.

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“He’s another who has real potential and Derby are looking for him to take that next step,” the manager explained. “He was on the bench for their first-team last week, for their opening game, but they’ve brought another forward in which has allowed this to happen.

“He’s really looking forward to the challenge of trying to work his way into our team, and both lads know they’re coming into a group that’s done really well over pre-season.

“It’s a group that’s also started well, so anybody coming into that is going to have to work hard to get into the team.”

On the forward’s loan spell at Stockport, he said: “That was the opportunity for him to go and play men’s football on a regular basis.

“He did that, he scored goals and this is the next step for him. It puts him in a different environment at a different football club and, being horrible about it, at a different level to what he’s used to.

“He’ll have to learn a different side to things because it’s not all as fantastic as it is at Derby County with their training ground and facilities.

“He seems a really good personality, a good character, and I’ve had some really good references about him.

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“I’m looking forward to seeing how he works with us and to getting him out on the grass. Let’s see what he can do and if he can get into positions where he can finish off the chances we create.”

The two new additions, along with the return of Jamie Devitt, provides even more options and competition for places in an already hungry squad.

“We’re getting that now,” he agreed. “With Jack and Jayden we have another option in the midfield and forward areas.

“I wanted good options, so the activity this week has helped with that. It’s a stronger group whenever you make additions and we just now have to make sure everybody is right to play.

“In terms of adding more, I think so. I think if I could get one more in a certain area I’d feel as though we’re in a good place.

“That changes very quickly if you pick up injuries, so touch wood we don’t get anymore. I think if we avoid that and get another in we’ll be in a very good place.”

“One thing we know we’re a little bit short on is cover on that left side of defence, so it’s an area we’re looking to do,” he said. “It’s just a matter of are the players we’ve identified going to be available and allowed to come out or not. 

“I just want someone who can cover us on the left side. We’ll see how we get on. The left-sided one may be somebody who could tick both boxes as a left wing-back/left centre-back in a three. We’re going to keep looking.

“It’s proving really difficult. My ideal scenario was to try and get somebody experienced in there but that hasn’t happened for one reason or another. We just keep working.

“If I can bring players in who I think are going to improve our group, I have to accept they might not be experienced, they might be a bit younger, I maybe have to accept I can’t bring them in on a permanent, it may have to be a loan.

“But I’ll keep working until I get what we believe is the right number and right mix of players, and we’ll keep working until the window closes. 

“I know we’ve been linked with Paul Huntington but there’s nothing at all on that. There was stuff in it early on, over the summer, that came to nothing.

“I haven’t had any other conversations. I was told it wasn’t for him, so that’s it, we move on. As far as I’m aware the situation hasn’t changed, and nothing has changed in relation to Dynel Simeu either.”

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