A somewhat rare beast in recent times, but it’s given the squad a timely injection of fresh legs at just the right time.
Departing Meadow Lane are two players with first team experience at Meadow Lane this year.
Young prospect Haydn Hollis has followed up his recent loan period at Hinckley United with a move for the rest of the season to Darlington of the Blue Square Premier. The switch effectively means we’re unlikely to see the lad play for Notts again this season – the bigger fear being we don’t see him back at all.
Hollis was one of a number of last year’s youth side who were awarded professional terms under Martin Allen and that deal expires this Summer. He’s a fantastic prospect, having been one of the most solid performers for the club in pre-season, composed in the amazing atmosphere at The Juventus Arena – and when called upon for his league debut against Huddersfield, didn’t put a single foot wrong.
He will of course benefit from more first team football, but it would be criminal if he is allowed to slip through the club’s fingers. The likes of he and Curtis Thompson were prolific in pre-season – we’re yet to see enough of them in the senior side though.
More pleasing to the majority is the exit of Ben Burgess to promotion-chasing Cheltenham Town in League Two.
To say Ben’s time at Meadow Lane has been a resounding failure sadly isn’t too wide of the mark.
With a lot of expectations resting on his broad shoulders, his pre-season appearances for Notts were promising – particularly against Cardiff City were he dominated the aerial battles. His first season though produced just the one goal whilst he sat most of the campaign out through injury. In that time though he shed a good few pounds and was back fighting fit in time for the most recent pre-season preparations.
Indeed, his appearance at Hinckley on a warm Saturday afternoon offered much promise at one stage. Solid off the ground, and at times there were glimpses of pace in a player busting a gut to run with the ball – right up until his hamstring gave way. You couldn’t help but sympathise when you saw first hand how much weight he had lost, and how visible his own disappointment was.
People forget now that the Burgess of the opening months of this season was a beast. For a man his size, his work on the ground with team mates was fantastic and he was nigh-on unbeatable in the air some afternoons. Certainly goals at Exeter and Stevenage helped secure points on the road for us.
But for whatever reason, that form escaped him. He made a resurgence back into first team contention, and by the end of his latest run he was proving to have more of an impact from the bench. His introduction at home to MK Dons being one such occasion, where his linkup that afternoon was a huge contributing factor to some of the best football we’ve played this season.
Last weekend against Sheffield Wednesday again he came on and made positive strides towards a first team return – many even called for him to start last Tuesday. He did, but against Sheffield United on Tuesday he was lacking once again. Harshly treated by many watching without question, but still far from what was required of him or what he is capable of.
A healthy salary completely unjustified by his performances, you’d struggle to see Ben pulling on a Notts shirt again with his contract expiring in the Summer – one of 15 playing staff playing for a new contract.
With two departures not having much of an impact on the first team then, it’s refreshing that Keith Curle has worked had to add three players from leagues above our own to the books. With the experience of Blackpool’s Daniel Bogdanovic, comes the youthful enthusiasm of Louis Harris (Wolves) and Nico Yennaris (Arsenal) – just enough to add the kind of competition places that could rejuvenate the playoff push ever so slightly derailed by the Steel City.
Current Maltese international forward Bogdanovic (i’ll be calling him Boggy from here) comes with recent League One experience with Rochdale for whom he played for little over a few weeks ago. He scored only the one goal in five starts, weighing in with one assist for the club currently third bottom. The hope is of course he’ll be thriving more on the service offered him by the likes of Alan Sheehan, Alan Judge and Jeff Hughes amongst others.
His richest scoring form of late came in his time at Barnsley ending in 2010 with a one goal in three ratio before moving to Sheffield United and later on Blackpool.
Louis Harris from Wolves meanwhile has no first team experience having developed through his club’s youth programme. His highest level thus far has come for their reserves where he has picked up a few goals. He’s an unknown quantity to many, but is highly rated by KC.
And then there’s Nico Yennaris who I was told on Twitter is: “A fantastic prospect. Quick, aggressive and clever”.
If that praise doesn’t do enough for you, Robin Van Persie had the following to say having seen Nico put in 45 minutes for the Gunners first team against Manchester United: “What I like about him is that he always looks forward when he has the ball. He’s a right back who wants to play and bring others into the game – there aren’t many fullbacks who always do that, but for me it makes a massive difference”. Already sounds like the perfect fit towards what we’ve played at times this season.
He’s also been capped by England at U17, 18 and 19 level – one for the future for sure!
Three lots of fresh legs to get us back on track for these last eight games of the push for the playoffs then to go alongside the recent acquisitions of Lloyd Sam and Tyrell Waite. All five will likely be in contention for a start tomorrow with the likes of Jonathan Forte, Damion Stewart and Neal Bishop all missing.
A time to be optimistic again – or a time to be cautious, wondering how all the new faces will impact on an already settled unit?
There’ll be some disappointment that a deal couldn’t be done with one of Boggy’s Blackpool team mate Chris Basham – a talent who had had his club’s fans pulling their hair out at the prospect of losing him. He was also being tailed by a Championship but a deal was done with neither side it would appear.
Similarly, outward loan moves failed to transpire to Lincoln for Jude Stirling (who looks destined to have his biggest contribution in a Notts shirt be his expleitive-ridden rant at Judgey on TV in Turin) or to Crawley Town for Rob Burch.
Fortunately, Steve Evans spared us his usual babble about a player being on his radar – apparently they weren’t aware how little Burchio had played for Notts until they got on touch! Could work out nicely for us though, with a demoralised Stuart Nelson tipped to make way for Burch, last seen in a Notts shirt saving a Fabio Quagliarella penalty!