02:30PM, Friday 31 July 2020
There are players on Slough Town’s summer transfer radar, but Neil Baker insisted the club wouldn’t be rushed into signing players in what he expects will be a ‘managers’ market’.
With club’s playing budgets impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Baker believes players will be released by pro clubs and the ripple effect of that could see a pool of talent available to pick up later in the summer.
Slough’s budget is smaller than in previous seasons, the result of COVID-19 on their finances, but Baker believes he and Jon Underwood can work with the money they’ve been given to create a squad capable of challenging for promotion once again. The Rebels have just over two months before they’re due to kick off their campaign with an FA Cup second round qualifying tie on Saturday, October 3 and Baker added that the side will probably play in a slightly different way next season, after the departures of Simon Dunn, George Wells, Scott Davies and Manny Williams this week.
Mark Nisbet also won’t return to the squad until he’s proved his fitness with the player due to undergo a second procedure to correct an abnormal heart rhythm in September. Each of the departing players is doing so for different reasons. Wells is keen to play at a higher level, Davies and Williams want the guarantee of more first team starts, while Dunn is keen to play football closer to his family home.
“Let’s be clear we came to these decisions jointly,” said Baker. “We haven’t sacked or got rid of anyone. We’ve talked things through as adults and in all four cases we felt it was the right thing for both the club and the player.
“Wellsy wants to move on. And from our point of view we need the move too because we have to have stability within the club. I’m sure he’ll move up to a National Prem side, no doubt. We get on really well and just felt it was the right time for him and the right time for us. He’s given us three great seasons.
“Manny and Scott both want to be playing and we don’t feel that either would be playing week in and week out. They’re still very good players and they’ll be big misses in and around the changing room and, at times, out on the pitch as both are still very good players. Scotty has loads of ability, as has Manny, but we just see ourselves playing a little differently next season and that would mean limited playing time for them.
“We don’t want to do that to them and they don’t want that either, but they’re two brilliant lads and we wish them all the best.
“Dunny lives a bit further away. He’s had a few issues this year but is still a very good player and it probably works for him to be slightly closer to home.
“It was a decision we came to jointly. In all four cases it was the right move for the club and the player.”
Baker added: “Unfortunately we can’t rely on Nis this season. We can’t plan for having Nis at this stage. He went to have an op on his heart and it didn’t quite work how it needed to. He will go back again in September and they’ve said they’ll get it done this time. But there’s a recuperation period of two months before he can step up his physical exercise again so we’ll reassess the situation as and when he’s available again.”
The club have managed to keep hold of the nucleus of last season’s squad while new arrivals are expected before the new campaign gets underway.
These could come from pre-season trialists, or from players bridging the gap from Slough's new u23s team.
However, the management team do have some targets in mind and they’ll be looking to persuade them to come to Arbour Park over the coming weeks.
“I wouldn’t expect any immediate news,” said Baker. “There will be quite a few new faces at training, trying to earn themselves a new deal.
“We also have a few players in mind that we’d like to sign. More than ever it’s a managers’ market though.
“There will be a lot of players released from pro clubs and they’ll end up filtering down. Players will set their expectations on playing at a certain level and if they don’t make it then they’ll look to the next level down.
“More than ever we’re feeling quite relaxed about it.
“We’re not going to commit ourselves to signing lots of players immediately. We’ve a budget to work to and it won’t be as big a squad as normal.
“Also, with new a new u23s squad we’re hoping some of those players will bridge the gap and one or two can join us throughout the season.”
Looking ahead to the new campaign, the Rebels goal will remain the same as always – to improve on last season.
Working with a smaller playing budget will make that a challenge, but Baker and Underwood believe they can bring in the right kind of players to improve the squad.
“We’ve chatted to the club about our plans for next season, but are not going to rush into things,” added Baker. “They’ve given us a budget to work to but it’s not going to be quite what it’s been because there are so many unknowns really. When will crowds be back in, we might have to work with the possibility of there only being 500 people at matches. That has an effect and we’re trying to be as responsible as we can be.
“We’ve had some conversations with players and some will be leaving but plenty of players will be staying.
“All clubs will be trying to do their best in terms of what comes in or goes out, but there are also some clubs out there with individual backers and this (coronavirus) is less of a concern for them.
“There will be some in our boat and others who aren’t in our boat. But it is what it is and we’ll move on.”
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