16th Nov, 2019

Byfield snaps up familiar duo as Alvechurch revamp hots up

Redditch Editorial 13th Jun, 2019

NEW boss Darren Byfield has continued his Alvechurch revamp by reuniting with Danico Johnson and Stuart McNaught and snapping up hot prospect Ant Smith.

Byfield, who replaced Ian Long as manager two weeks ago, stresses he is prepared to be patient to sign the right players for the Southern Premier Central club.

Goalkeeper Charlie Price and striker Kieron Cook are the latest players to follow Long to Stourbridge but the arrival of striker Johnson and midfielder McNaught, who were with Redditch United last term, and Smith from Continental Star means Church already have more than a dozen players committed to next season.

Johnson, who also had spells at Bromsgrove Sporting and Rugby Town, formerly played under Byfield at Redditch three seasons ago, while McNaught also played under the boss at Walsall Wood last term.

While they already have step three experience, young front-runner Smith will be stepping up from Midland League Division Three but, having scored 54 goals last term to be the league’s top goal-getter, he is a player Byfield is keen to develop.

“Ant scored 54 goals last season and although it will very hard to replicate that at step three he is someone I’ve watched and I believe he deserves his chance,” said Byfield.

“He is only 20, but he is 6ft 4in, mobile and he holds the ball up well. He is someone I’m really looking forward to working with.

“I’ve worked with Danico and Stuart before and they’ve got experience of playing at this level.

“On his day, Danico is one of the best strikers around. Players in non-League struggle for that consistency, that’s why they are in non-League, but Danico is learning about what’s required.

“I’m further down the managerial road too since I first managed at Redditch and I’m better equipped to get the best out of players.

“Having tried to sign him at Redditch and then worked with him at Walsall Wood, Stuart was one player I definitely wanted – he gives so much on and off the pitch. He brings the best out of those around him. You need those kind of players to raise the level of everybody.”

Alvechurch will also draft in Academy products Ben Cassidy, who became the club’s youngest first-team scorer last season, and Dylan Hadley when they begin pre-season training.

Byfield says talks with other prospective targets continue, although he knows nothing is ever guaranteed at this stage of the season.

“The forms to register players are out now but even if someone signs as a non-contract player they can move anyway,” said Byfield.

“I’ve been around long enough to know the players have got the power at the moment, they can jump from club to club so we’ve got to be patient.

“I think we’ve got 13-14 players already committed and we will want to bring in a few more, with a few more from the Academy joining us in pre-season. We don’t need to rush into anything – there are a lot of players available and they need to be the right players for Alvechurch.”

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