Younger brother of England and Aston Villa player is key addition
Rugby Town manager Dave Stringer was looking at the benefits of having had a weekend off, as he prepares for another home fixture this Saturday when Boldmere visit Butlin Road.
Stringer also confirmed that his squad has been bolstered by four new signings over the past fortnight, and he had already been impressed by the impact the new men had had.
Following the postponement of last Saturday’s fixture at home to Heanor, he explained: “Whilst it is always disappointing when you can’t get matches on for whatever reason, the extra week of training has at least provided the new players with the chance to bed in properly and get to know the rest of the lads too in the process.
“The extended break has also given those players struggling with knocks and niggles a little more recovery time, so hopefully we will have a fully-fit and enhanced group ready to go this weekend.”
The arriving quartet of Stuart Hendrie, Conor Wright, Jeff Woodward and Sam Lockley join a Valley squad that is looking to push back up the MFL Premier Division table over the coming weeks.
Stringer continued: “We just felt that we needed an injection at this point and the dressing room had gone a bit stale and could do with freshening up in the dressing room. Their arrival should give everybody a boost and intensify competition for places.”
Hendrie joins from MFL Division Two title challengers Montpelier, where he has already scored 20 goals in just 16 appearances – having previously played for a number of clubs at various levels of the non-league pyramid including Tamworth, Hinckley, Daventry, Redditch, Atherstone, Coleshill and Alvechurch.
The 28-year-old younger brother of Aston Villa and England international Lee also completed a year long contract at Football League club Morecambe back in 2010-11 and teamed up with Valley’s current leading scorer Ruben Wiggins-Thomas to help fire Basford to the MFL Premier title three seasons ago.
The Valley boss was delighted to have finally landed a longstanding target: “We were hoping to get Stuart on-board in the summer but unfortunately it just didn’t work out. He is a quality player with a good pedigree and an eye for a goal, so I’m really pleased that we’ve managed to get him here now.”
Wright signs from fellow MFL side Worcester having also featured for Montpelier earlier in the campaign, whilst Woodward makes the switch from Coventry United and Lockley takes the step up from Rugby Borough FC.
Stringer added: “We have had our eye on Conor for a while too and I have been impressed from what I have seen from him in training already. He’s young and willing to learn, and can play anywhere down the right hand side.
“Jeff is only 24 years old and has started15 times for United so far this season. I have had glowing reports from Biggleswade manager Chris Nunn for whom he played last year, and he will give us good options across the back-four.”
Woodward is another player to have learnt his trade at the Strachan Foundation, where he was spotted by one-time Valley assistant manager Craig Adams – who subsequently took him to both Southern League Bedford and Biggleswade.
Stringer is particularly excited by another Strachan graduate Lockley, and he said: “We had Sam here in pre-season and I liked what I saw from him then. He has really quick feet and he could be a little gem.
“He’s also trained fantastically well so far and whilst we are not putting any pressure on the lad, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do for us.”
Lockley top scored for the Rugby Town JFC Youth Team that lifted the Midland Floodlit League title last season, and he carried that form in front of goal in the Leicestershire Senior League for Borough this time round before his switch up to Butlin Road.
Stringer concluded: “We have one or two other potential arrivals in the pipeline, and they could be here in the next week or two, and then obviously we would have to take stock and there could be a couple of departures after that.”