21st Oct, 2019

Long refuses to rest on his laurels

Liam Moakes 29th Jun, 2017

IAN LONG stressed last season’s treble-winning heroics will count for nothing as he plots Alvechurch’s debut in Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South.

The Churchmen began pre-season training last week and manager Long said every player would be fighting for a place.

The Midland League Premier and League Cup winners have continued to bolster their squad by signing lively front-runner Yusifu Ceesay from Sporting Khalsa and confirming Redditch United target Babucar Sauane would be staying at Lye Meadow.

Long also confirmed they would looking at Redditch Borough right back Luke English and Cadbury Athletic left back Brett Lloyd during pre-season, but wide player Ryan Edmunds has departed.

“As a manager, I’ve always had a good squad, that’s why we’ve been successful and it will be the same formula,” said Long. “There will be an opportunity for every player to show what they can do.

“It’s a clean slate for everybody. New players or old players, they have all got to earn a place in the starting 11, the match-day 16 or the squad of around 20 players.

“Last season will take some beating, having won three trophies, but that’s the target. We want to take the momentum from last season into the new league.”

Long is excited by the arrival of Ceesay, who is also a friend of Sauane’s. Like his fellow Gambian, Ceesay can play in a variety of roles and will add even more attacking flair alongside the likes of Josh March, Danny Dubidat, Connor Deards and new signings Javia Roberts, Luke Keen and Luke Yates.

“We like players who can play anywhere across the front-line,” said Long. “We like to play a man in the hole and three across the top and they can all interchange and Yusifu fits the bill. He can play as a No 10 or up front and he can go past players for fun. We are excited to have him on board and it means there’s great competition for places.”

English and Lloyd will be among the trialists training with Alvechurch at The Hayes, where the club will be building its new ground in the next few years. The U21s and new Reserves team will both play their home games there, as will the successful juniors set-up.

Alvechurch will play the first of nine friendlies on July 12 at Tipton Town, followed by a trip to Hereford Lads Club three days later.

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