Laws stays calm amid goalie crisis

ON THE MOVE: Veteran defender Gavin Johnson is in search of a new club after leaving Needham Market
ON THE MOVE: Veteran defender Gavin Johnson is in search of a new club after leaving Needham Market
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NEEDHAM Market manager Danny Laws remains far from concerned despite Liam Jone’s exit leaving the Marketmen with somewhat of a goalkeeper crisis as pre-season looms large.

Jones, who returned to the club from Debenham LC midway through the last campaign following the departure of Andrew Plummer, going on to make 19 appearances, has failed to agree terms on a new deal at Bloomfields and is now free to find another club.

The club return to pre-season training next week, but despite the absence of a recognised senior number one, Laws is remaining calm, revealing he has a number of replacements in mind.

“We haven’t been able to agree terms with Liam Jones and so he is free to look for another club,” he said. “Obviously that leaves us with a goalkeeper shortage going into the start of pre-season but there is no rush as yet because we have a number of options in mind.”

Laws also revealed experienced central defender Gavin Johnson will not be remaining at the club and is also now free to seek a new a challenge.

The 41-year-old veteran, who previously enjoyed professional stints with Ipswich Town, Wigan Athletic and Colchester United earlier in his career, made a mammoth contribution to Needham last season, featuring in a total of 52 matches in all competitions, scoring three goals.

The manager conceded the recent arrival of Nathan Clarke from AFC Sudbury would have restricted Johnson’s playing time in the up-coming campaign, a factor that resulted in the decision to allow him to leave, as he took the opportunity to pay tribute to the popular figure.

“We had a good chat and initially I wanted to keep him here but it just wasn’t to be,” added Laws. “What it comes down to is the fact that this season I won’t have as big as squad and I am having to reduce numbers.

“Gavin has been brilliant for us but he still wants to play every week and I couldn’t guarantee him that.

“His experience will be a big loss but we are taking a different shape this season and that was a decision I had to make.

“He was a great character to have around and that made the decision even more difficult but we have to move on now.”

Meanwhile, Johnson’s likely replacement at the heart of defence, Clarke, is on the road to recover after coming through a successful hernia operation this week and Laws believes the 23-year-old is on track to be fitter by the start of the season.

“Nathan’s surgery went well and he should be back by the start of the season,” explained Laws. “His re-hab will take place during pre-season and I have no doubt he will be raring to go with the rest of the squad come August.”