County squad taking shape as pre-season begins

We take a look at the current Stockport County squad as pre-season begins for the 2017/18 season.

Starting at the back, and probably the one area that The Hatters don’t require any strengthening in, Ian Ormson and Ben Hinchliffe will fight it out for the number one jersey, with Hinchliffe expected to start the season as no.1.

In defence, new signings Dan Cowan and Stephen O’Halloran join current defenders Chris Smalley, Michael Clarke, Sam Minihan, Connor Hampson and Scott Duxbury to ensure County will start their pre-season campaign with a number of experienced and promising defenders.

The midfield was seen as a concern at the end of last season and that will have been heightened by the loss of influential midfielder, Lewis Montrose. Fortunately, Jim Gannon has moved quickly on that front with the addition of Salford midfielder Sam Walker. Sam will join Harry Winter and Harry Brazel in the heart of the County team and attacking midfielders James Ball, George West and Adam Etches.

A complete revamp of the County frontline has also taken place, with Kayode Odejayi, Josh Amis and Sefton Gonzales all released. Space has been made for new signings Matty Warburton, Darren Stephenson and Jason Oswell, whilst  attacker Adam Thomas also returns from injury after a year on the sidelines.

So, overall, 19 players make up the squad as pre-season kicks off. It’s likely that Jim Gannon will add another attacker and another midfielder before the first real fixtures take place in August, but already the current squad looks more balanced (on paper) as County look to leave the sixth tier of English football at the fifth attempt.

NLN Round-up: Fagbola extends FC United stay

Former County defender, Jordan Fagbola, has extended his stay at FC United after signing a one year contract with the Moston-based club.

The 23-year-old defender, who spent four years at County under a number of different managers, joined the club in January of this year after a short stint at Solihull Moors.

Fagbola started the last eight matches in a row for FCUM, and his performances in the latter part of the season were enough to earn the former Rochdale defender a 12 month contract.

Elsewhere in the National League North, Alfreton Town continue to strengthen for the new season with the re-signing of Brad McGowan, their 2017 player of the year.

Chorley fans will also be pleased with the news of Jake Cottrell signing for a further season, the midfielder now enters his fifth season at the Lancashire club and has made more than 200 appearances for The Magpies.

Finally, highly rated Shrewsbury striker, Ethan Jones, has decided to sign for Southport, despite interest from a number of clubs. The 19-year-old has cited game time as the main reason for his move to The Sandgrounders.

Walker and Cowan Join Hatters

Stockport County manager, Jim Gannon has bolstered his options in defence and midfield with the addition of Dan Cowan and Sam Walker, just days before the start of pre-season.

Cowan, who joins from Macclesfield, has been at the club since finishing his apprenticeship in 2014 and has made over 50 appearances before his release this summer.

The right-sided defender has also had loan spells at Ashton United and Chorley in recent years and after the announcement that Max Cartwright has left the club, Gannon was quick to add the 21-year-old to his side.

“I’ve seen Dan play every year for Macclesfield Town against my teams, and he has always impressed me”, he told the club website on Tuesday.

“The addition provides further depth, and restores some balance to the defensive options… He’s grown in maturity with first team games and I feel he has all the attributes to develop into a top defender”.

In addition, County fans can be excited at the capture of highly-rated midfielder Sam Walker, who joins the club on a two year deal after rejecting a new contract at Salford City for the coming season.

The 29-year-old has also had successful spells at Curzon Ashton and  Halifax Town, where he won the FA Trophy, and the central midfielder has been hailed as a potential replacement for goals now that top scorer Danny Lloyd has left for Peterborough.

“Sam scored seven goals and provided 13 assists in last season’s 37 appearances at Salford, which is a great contribution from central midfield”, Gannon told fans last week.

Sam and Matty Warburton provide us with two very good technicians for set plays, which at every level of football is becoming an increasingly important source of goals”.

Welcome to both Dan and Sam, we look forward to seeing you in pre-season.

Cartwright Rejects Contract Offer

Left-back Max Cartwright has rejected a contract offer from the club after a reasonably successful first season with the Hatters, which included a goal on his debut in the 2-1 league victory over Salford.

It was initially reported that the 21-year-old had signed on for another year, but the defender has now decided to move on from Edgeley Park (reason undisclosed).

Max signed for County after a serious head injury to Scott Duxbury against Fylde in November. The former Fleetwood trainee had spells in and out of the team as well as a loan at Ashton United before consolidating his place towards the end of the season. In total, Max made 15 appearances for us, scoring one goal.

All the best with your next move, Max.

Tranmere Winger signs for County

Former Tranmere Rovers winger, Darren Stephenson, has signed for Stockport County on a two year contract and becomes Jim Gannon’s fourth signing of the summer.

The left sided attacker, who began his career at Bradford City and made one appearance for The Bantams in 2012, has been billed as a replacement for Danny Lloyd and a striker that is proven at Conference North level.

The consensus from Tranmere Rovers fans, for what it’s worth, is that it was a mistake to release a player that was never really given a chance in the team. Looking at the Total Tranmere forum, you can see that the majority believe he would have an important impact for them when fully fit.

Jim Gannon, meanwhile, is delighted to finally secure Darren’s services, and revealed that he has been a target for quite some time.

‘Darren is a player I’ve admired since he played against my Northwich Victoria team’, he told Stockportcounty.com on Monday.

“(He) catches the eye with his skill, pace and ability to raid in off the left to score goals. His flourish of goals at the end of 2015/2016 earned him a great move to Tranmere”.

Gannon also revealed that his work was not finished yet, and expressed his desire to continually supplement the current squad of players.

“We are continuing discussions with a number of attackers that we trust will provide at least one more player with different qualities to complement and supplement our signed attackers”.

Jason Oswell becomes County’s third signing of the summer

Former Newtown AFC striker, Jason Oswell, has signed for County on a one year deal and becomes Jim Gannon’s third signing of the 2017 close season.

Newtown AFC

The 24 year old was the Dafabet player of the season and golden boot winner last season, helping The Robins to a 7th place finish with his 22 league goals.

County’s new striker has also had spells at Nantwich, Inverness CT and Witton Albion since leaving Crewe Alexandra as a youngster.

Current Newtown boss, Chris Hughes, could not hide his disappointment at the loss of his player of the season.

“He will be a big miss for us, has been a fantastic for myself and the club, but expressed desire to return to the English system”, he told newtownafc.com after news of his departure was confirmed.

“We wish him all the best in his new venture.”

Jim Gannon, meanwhile, expressed his delight at securing Jason’s signature, who left Wales with a goal ratio that was better than one in two.

“I like my main forward to be an all round, well-equipped point attacker. And the more I considered Jason and assessed his attributes the more I felt he would be a great fit in our new look frontline”, he told Stockportcounty.com on Monday.

“Jason has the height and aerial strength to be a target man for getting up the pitch or attacking crosses. But he has a good turn of pace and very good mobility and athleticism for a big lad”.

The Gaffer also had words for County supporters, who have been wary on the club’s progress since the loss of both our player of the year and top goalscorer.

“I am confident we will have a stronger team than last season… We are far from finished and we have been working hard on adding other targets”.

“We may need to be patient to get the right quality but I am confident that we will have a team and squad stronger than last season”.

The club have now secured the signings of Matty Warburton, Stephen O’Halloran and Jason Oswell, as they continue to prepare for 17/18 season and push for the newly designed play-off places.

 

 

Fylde confirm Lewis Montrose signing

AFC Fylde and Stockport County’s official channels both confirmed Lewis Montrose departure from Edgeley Park yesterday, and it was revealed that this was not the first time the Lancashire club had tried to sign County’s two-time player of the year.

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In only February of this year, the Coasters approached County with a view to signing Montrose, but were rebuffed when a clause in his contract meant he could only leave for a club in the higher divisions.

With Fylde’s promotion, that has now happened and there was nothing stopping Dave Challinor from re-approaching the holding midfielder and activating the release clause in his contract (rumoured to be £15,000).

AFC’s chairman, David Haythornthwaite revealed that he was delighted the deal was now over the line.

“We are delighted to finally welcome Lewis to the club”, he told their official club website.

“We tried to get him in February last season as we were aware there was a buy-out clause in his contract. However, the clause was restrictive in that it only allowed a move to a club in a higher division than Stockport”.

Jim Gannon, meanwhile, shared the fans disappointment, but was upbeat about County’s chances of replacing the former Manchester City trainee.

“Lewis has been an outstanding member of the team, earning back-to-back Player of the Year awards… We are naturally disappointed to lose Lewis from our squad”, he told County’s official website yesterday.

“We are confident that we have an excellent replacement for his central midfield role in the team in Harry Winter. We were mindful of the potential loss of Lewis at some point due to injury or transfer, so we added Harry from FC United in early March”.

Gannon also revealed how hard the club had tried to remove the infamous clause from Montrose’s contract, and his words including a slight dig at the former management for allowing it to be present in the first place.

“We found it difficult to negotiate out of his contract a ‘release’ or ‘buyout’ clause that was granted by the previous manager”.

The 27-year-old has clear ambitions to play at a high level and despite his long-term signature earlier in the season, it is clear that the vast majority of players would not want to be held back if a full-time club came calling (especially when they have the financial backing that Fylde do).

Here at EH, we wish Lewis Montrose all the best for his time at Mill Farm.