TWO bright young prospects from Needham Market are among those who will have to fill some huge holes in Thetford Town’s team this season.
After a promotion-winning campaign in 2011/12, the Brecklanders have lost a number of key players – including the club’s former double player-of-the-year Matt Howard and 48-goal Matt Dixon – ahead of their first Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division campaign in two decades.
But manager Mark Scott hopes ‘exciting’ teenagers Tom Dew and Kieran Morphew, signed on dual registration with Ryman One North outfit Needham, can fulfil their potential and fire Thetford to even better things in 2012/13.
“I trust and believe in the squad I have got, but whether we’ll be as competitive as we hoped – only time will tell,” said Scott, whose side begin their campaign at home to relegation favourites Wivenhoe Town tomorrow (3pm). “Pre-season has been great for us and we’ve not lost a game so confidence is relatively high within the squad.”
Apart from losing Howard and Dixon, to Dereham Town and Norwich United respectively, Scott’s squad has also been hit by skipper Sean O’Donnell departing due to work commitments, centre-half Dave Richards retiring and back-up striker Nathan Szyszlyk moving to First Division promotion hopefuls Whitton United.
However, along with the youth signed in the shape of striker Dew and central midfielder Morphew – no relation to fellow Thetford player Dan Morphew – the Brecklanders have also taken ex-Marketman Ben Wake to Mundford Road, with the left-back confirmed as the club’s new captain this week.
Scott said: “I was prepared to lose Sean and Dave, while Nathan was a tricky one because he never really reached his potential with us.
“Matty Howard and Matt Dixon are big players to miss, but with Ben Wake coming in with the two young lads, it’s given us a boost.”
Goalkeeper Matt Barker – a player Scott has managed before – has also signed on as back-up to Ian Fancett, despite interest from a number of First Division clubs.
However, with two more strikers on Scott’s radar, Thetford have also failed in their bid to sign Luke Catchpole – who has opted to return to Diss Town – and former Ukrainian professional Nikolajs Kozacucks.
Following tomorrow’s opener with Wivenhoe – which new signing Kieran Morphew will miss through family commitments – Thetford host Mildenhall Town on Tuesday (7.45pm), when they will come face-to-face with former striker Andrew Wood.
Luke Bailey will be absent for that clash, as will Portuguese talisman Bruno Tavares, who is set to miss at least the first three-to-four weeks of the campaign with a torn quad muscle.
There is then the small matter of an FA Cup extra preliminary round tie at Godmanchester Rovers the following Saturday when the top two from last season’s First Division meet for the right to host Daventry Town two weeks later.