‘Awful pre-season’ needs to be shaken off by Thetford boys
Not many managers are prepared to describe their pre-season as ‘awful’ – but player commitment and injury issues has left Thetford Town manager Danny White with a stinking headache heading into the new campaign’s opening weekend.
The Brecklanders, who finished bang in mid-table in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division last term, have seen key players leave in 24-goal midfielder Max Melanson (Stowmarket Town) and linchpin defender Nathan Clarke (Newmarket Town), with replacements proving hard to come by.
Frustration in the transfer market has been coupled with players taking holiday during pre-season, sides calling off fixtures and their pitch being too hard to train on.
With a host of players either unavailable or injured, tomorrow’s trip to many people’s title favourites Stowmarket Town (3pm), player-boss White is bracing himself for a tricky start.
“It has been an awful pre-season, if I am being honest,” he said.
“Player availability has been horrendous; I have got about eight or nine out at the moment.
“Against Mulbarton (1-0 defeat Tuesday) I ended up having to player seven reserve players.
“The weather has not helped either, as we have not been able to get on our pitch and have seen games cancelled. The boys have trained hard though.”
One positive is the emergence of new signing Thelmo Rocha, a 6ft 7in central midfielder who has been picked up from Thetford-based Portuguese Sunday league side Tugarf.
Of the brother of fellow Brecklander Valta, who returned to Thetford during last season, White said: “He has been one of our better players and has been outstanding, to be fair.
“Clubs have already commented on him and he has been a bit of a surprise package.”
Ian Fancett, the former Town goalkeeper who now plays out on pitch in a variety of positions, has returned but Bradley Sandell (Brandon Town) and Ryan Sanders (Lakenheath) have both left.
Asked about their chances this year, White was still upbeat, saying: “We are more than capable of beating anyone in that league on our day and results like against Coggeshall last season prove that.
“Targeting survival is not an option for me, I want us to beat last year and at least finish in the top 10.
“At the end of the day it boils down to consistency and that is something we have to improve on.”
White damaged his ankle ligaments in the 8-0 thumping at Wisbech, requiring a hospital visit. But he believes their best signing of the summer may prove to be their new physiotherapist, known as ‘Nuno’, with the Portugese having previously been the physio at FC Porto.
Following the weekend’s game, Thetford host fellow Norfolk side Great Yarmouth Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).