The countdown is officially on – we’re on the home straight for the start of the 2015/16 season with just one friendly to go this Friday in Sheffield and the final pieces of Chris Wilder’s newest jigsaw still being sought.
On the pitch, we seem to be putting together something solid with an emphasis on a small but fit squad and the friendlies have been raced through without any real problems barring an injury to talisman Ricky Holmes. Even that’s been placated by the fact that flying wingers are now arguably the strongest area of the squad with Alfie Potter and Nicky Adams performing well in pre-season and Lawson D’Ath looking to build on a terrific first season with us.
The problem, as things currently stand, lie elsewhere with back up options to key positions still to be filled and questions still abound over the future of Ivan Toney. With or without the young man who is still attracting a lot of attention, we still need at least one more option up top, if not two. Something different, in the target man mould, would be helpful and if Toney does depart then a pacy option and high quality alternative will be imperative.
Central midfield needs a bit of added meat as well with one more in there probably enough for now for competition and the inevitable injury / suspension issues that will come up mid-season. Joel Byrom and Jason Taylor have forged a good relationship in the middle of the park and will take some moving but there’s definitely a need for something else in there.
Rod McDonald’s signing at the back means that we’re near enough done there with a few of the new signings able to fill in at different positions across the defence and so there’s just those couple of gaps now to fill before the assembling is done.
Some of that could well hinge on any developments on the takeover front and the nervous wait goes on to see who/what/where/when and why the deal is taking place. We’ve heard of a positive meeting with the council but still nothing has been made clear to the supporters who are inevitably theorizing their way through the summer. With such sensitivities behind it, though, it needs to be done right and Wilder is unlikely to be waiting for the resolution before pushing on with signing targets. You just hope that any rumours or disruption that’ happening in the board room doesn’t affect the big kick off and the opening month of the season that sees us tackle some stern early tests.
Bristol Rovers and Barnet away in the early part of the season won’t be easy with momentum and the wind behind their sails still blowing away from promotion in May. Home games in August against Exeter and Plymouth could be crucial in getting a foot hold in the season and getting off to the kind of start that’s eluded us on plenty of occasions in recent times.
There’s around 15-20 clubs that are thinking the same as us in that playoffs are a realistic target this season and that’s what makes League Two so unpredictable once again. With just TEN DAYS to go now, the only certainty is that the fun and games are about to begin all over again!