New St Albans City boss focused on adding experience

New boss looking to mould Saints’ squad in the coming weeks

NEW St Albans City boss David Howell may have only started officially at Clarence Park this week but he has already set himself his first target – to get a team together before the start of the season in just over four weeks’ time.

The City players returned to training on Tuesday night with familiar faces Pete Smith, Rob Magwood, Sean Shields, Dom Petrucci and Ross Dedman among the 25 to 30-strong group of players on show for new boss Howell’s first training session. However, the Saints are currently without a recognised goalkeeper and are lacking in the experience department leaving Howell on the hunt for some seasoned non-league stars.

“My target is to try and get a team together in four weeks,” Howell told the Herts Advertiser in an exclusive interview after his first training session.

“That is it at the moment – to try and get a team that is competitive at the start of the season.

“I look around here and I see a lot of lads who are eager, there’s commitment and passion but I just feel at the moment we are a little bit young, we are a little bit green and I need to bring in a little bit of experience – people who know their way around the park.

“I know what I’ve got to go and do and what I need to get it but it’s just a matter of getting the right people and the right combination of central defenders, the midfield pairing and strikers.”

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The players were put through their paces in the grounds of Clarence Park on Tuesday evening by Howell’s right-hand man Ken Charlery and coach Stuart Crawford, with the new City boss taking a watching brief and the 52-year-old says the next few weeks will just be a case of seeing what talent is around and how that might fit into his plans.

“It’s the first official training night, we’ve had about 25 or 30 lads here and it’s been interesting,” explained Howell.

“There’s a mixture of a few players who are remaining from last season, a few players that have written in and emailed who are straightforward trialists, a few youth team and reserve players and I’ve got three or four who have come from Harrow Borough but if I’m perfectly honest in the next couple of weeks I’m going to have to look to get some players in to fill the gaps to get a side together that I can work with.

“It’s so difficult in pre-season because you can go to someone and get them in, they can start training at the beginning of July and then for whatever reason someone comes in in August and offers them twice as much money and they’re gone. So throughout this period of July and August and the pre-season friendlies – it’s just getting people in and having a look and just seeing if they bond or gel and if they are the type of player you are looking for.

“We’re not like, say Arsenal or one of the top Premiership clubs, that can go and identify a goalkeeper, a centre half and a centre forward, left back and go and sign and pay and get them on contracts. My job here is to get a team together within a certain budget and that will mean a mixture of young, senior, experienced players and players that maybe are a bit greener to get the right blend together. It took me a while at Harrow but we got there in the end and last season there was no really exceptional players.”