IAN LONG will renew his acquaintances with one of his former players via the USA as his Alvechurch squad continues to take shape for their Northern Premier South debut.
Boss Long confirmed Mitch Botfield, who played for him at Tividale at the same level, will be joining for the new season when he returns following a football scholarship in America.
The midfielder’s arrival will be timely after Reece Shilvock, one of Church’s treble winners last term, decided to join Midland Premier Lye Town because of work commitments.
Alvechurch have also secured Ash Carter on contract, with the defender having settled superbly into the team after his summer move from Kidderminster Harriers.
Botfield, a close pal of Church midfielder Tom Turton, will not be back into the UK until after the August 12 opener against Leek Town, but Long expects he will be more than fit enough to slot into action straight away.
“Mitch is still playing in the US and flies back on the day of the first game of the season,” said Long. “We’ve stayed in touch from our days at Tividale and when I saw him at Christmas he looked in great shape, really chiselled, lean and fit.
“He will give us that bit of power in the middle of the park and he already knows the level, having played for me at Tividale. He loved his time at Tividale and is a great character to have in the dressing room.”
Long was equally delighted to get the signature of Carter on contract, following last season’s top scorer Josh March on contract.
Carter has impressed in pre-season so far and helped Alvechurch chalk up a third friendly win in a row in Tuesday’s 1-0 success against Bromsgrove Sporting in a clash between last season’s Midland Premier and Division One champions.
Babucar Sauane scored the only goal as Church followed victory at Tipton Town and Saturday’s 6-0 success at Hereford Lads Club. March (2), Luke Yates, Jordan Gibson, Kyle Brady and Romario Martin were the scorers.
“Ash has been involved in every game so far and he looks a quality player,” said Long. “Getting him on contract will stop any interest in him from potential suitors but it also shows how serious we are in wanting to progress. Being a left-sided centre half, he gives us a lot of balance and he is also at the right age. It’s a great bit of business for the club.”
Alvechurch head to Paget Rangers, who play at Boldmere St Michaels, on Saturday, but injuries will keep out Andy Parsons and Jack Cresswell. Centre-back Parsons remains a major worry with an ankle injury which has meant he has yet to join in full training, but midfielder Cresswell is pencilled in for a run-out on Tuesday when Stratford Town visit Lye Meadow.
Connor Deards is expected to be fit to play against Paget but Yusifu Ceesay and Javia Roberts are still away.