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Home / News / MANAGEMENT NEWS / Saunders Looking For Striker

Saunders Looking For Striker

Saunders Looking For Striker

Manager Jay Saunders urged for “patience” as he and his staff continue preparations for the 2020/21 season.

Reflecting on The Gate’s back-to-back away games at Brentwood and Faversham Town respectively, Saunders made clear his number one priority is to recruit a striker.

“When it comes to pre-season, people always look at results which is inevitable as we all want to win football games. I think the team has performed a bit indifferently over the past two games.”

“Looking back at Brentwood, we produced some good stuff and moved the ball around well. What is clear to anyone is that we’re in desperate need of a centre-forward. Unfortunately, we have lost Noel Leighton for around six weeks with an achilles tear, so we had to push John Ufuah into that number nine role which isn’t a natural fit for him.”

“Again, on Tuesday, I thought we had good possession and some key things well but ultimately we failed to get the ball into the back of the net. We need to find that cutting edge and begin to hurt teams more. Coylie and I are working around the clock to get those extra players in we want.”

Saunders added, “ Player recruitment is something we are working on constantly. It is easy to sign players but we only want to recruit players we think will add to us and be better than what we’ve got.”

“We’ve had three deals fall through at the final hurdle this week which is a blow but we move on and I’m hopeful we will get one or two in by the weekend.”

Saunders has been able to add Connor Evans and Bailey Vose to his squad and they will prove to be two key signings according to the Manager.

“Connor has stepped up a few levels and continually impressed me since becoming involved. I think he plays best for us in that number ten role, as we saw during the game against Ramsgate but at the moment, we’re having to switch him around due to Noel’s injury. But Connor is an extremely exciting prospect and a player I think will show even more for us as the season goes on.”

Whilst the recruitment of a goalkeeper is one Saunders is especially delighted with.

“Signing Bailey was big for us, especially having a keeper on a permanent deal. Bailey has about 150 appearances plus in the league above, he’s young and again I think a player who will get better and better with us.” 

“I’m now really focused on getting us that right striker. It is clear it is what we’re missing but as I’ve said, we want to get the right players and ones supporters can get excited about.”

Last Friday, a start date for the competitive season was confirmed which came as a huge boost to Saunders.

“It is so much better now we have a start date and something set in stone to work towards. I think we’ve timed our pre-season right but to have it all confirmed means we can really begin to kick-on.”

“The next two to three weeks are going to be really important. I want to get our signings over the line and begin to knuckle down and settle things with our squad ahead of the first game of the season.”

One of the pluses for Saunders throughout pre-season has been the introduction of youth players into the first team set up. 

“We’ve had a lot of triallists and young players involved with us over the past few weeks. Young George Lamb and George Wilkinson have been excellent for us and it’s great to have those players step up from our youth team into the mix. We’ve also had Joshua Steel who I think is a great prospect.”

With supporters allowed back on the terraces and a confirmed start to the season, Saunders hopes plans and work behind the scenes will come together ahead of Saturday 19 September.

“Having supporters back was massive for the players. When I speak to players I want to bring in, I tell them about our fan base. The supporters here are great and a bit unique in the fact they don’t get on the players’ backs. That’s a really big thing.”

“To have fans back supporting their local club at Hartsdown Park is key. People look forward to it, coming to games and watching the boys.”

And it’s something Saunders looks forward to too. Coming up this weekend is the visit of National League side Dover Athletic. The highest ranked team The Gate are set to face in pre-season, it’s a match-up Saunders is excited about.

“I’m really looking forward to being back at HDP on Saturday. It’s going to be great to see Hess, Darren Hare and Nicky Southall and I’m looking forward to having them down at the club. They’re going to be organised and it will be a test for our players which is why we invited them down.”

“I think they’ll have a younger side this season as they’ve had their own changes and challenges but for me on Saturday and moving forwards I’m looking for our players to start nailing their case for a shirt.”

“I said to the players after Tuesday that now is the time to start really showing why you should be starting against Brightlingsea.”

Saunders concluded, “It has been a tough off-season during unprecedented times for the game but I would ask supporters to be patient and trust us as we get the right personnel in.”

If you'd like to purchase your ticket to Saturday's pre-season friendly versus Dover, please click here.

Wednesday, 02 September 2020
By Charlotte Richardson

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