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Stags hope to get embargo lifted
AFC TOTTON are hoping to get their transfer embargo lifted ahead of tomorrow’s Calor Southern Premier Division opener at home to title favourites Stourbridge.
With wages still outstanding from last season, the cash-strapped Stags were told they could only sign 16 players until they could prove to the Southern League that there is an agreement in place to pay the 2012/13 squad the money they owe them.
It leaves manager Steve Riley the difficult task of going into the new season with just three first-team survivors from last season – Nathaniel Sherborne, Ryan Hill and young Luke Roberts – plus the likes of ex-Andover man Chris Onoufriou, young midfielder Lewis Ross from Fawley AFC and ex-Guildford City player Michael Bada.
Much of the rest of the squad will comprise of young guns like Conor Thorne, Ellis White, Zac Mouland and Sam House who have progressed through the youth system.
“We need to reach an agreement with all the players we owe money to and, hopefully, the league will lift the ban,” explained interim chairman Andy Straker yesterday. “All the money raised at last week’s fundraising game (between the 2007 FA Vase final side and an AFC Totton Guest XI) will go towards players’ wages and we’ll be making a payment to them this week.”
After all the behind-the-scenes upheaval, manager Riley cannot wait to get started on the biggest challenge of his managerial career.
Following tomorrow’s visit of last season’s runners-up Stourbridge, the Stags face a Tuesday night slog to north Devon to face Bideford. “It’s building blocks for us, trying to get a bit of experience around a bit of youth, and it’ll be an interesting learning curve for me, (assistant manager) Chris Ferrett and (coach) Steve Hollick to see how some of these lads cope at this level,” said Riley. “It might have been easier to learn their trade in the Wessex League, but it’s sink or swim time. We’ve got a bit of character in the dressing room and the good thing about the young lads is they play without fear.”
Riley remains hopeful of re-signing Dave Allen, who has also featured for Bashley in pre-season, but the experienced utility man is unavailable for the next two Saturdays. Ex-Stags goalkeeper Joe McCormack is also a target.
Southern Premier new bous Poole Town – home to St Albans City tomorrow – have signed winger Ekow Elliott from Blackfield & Langley.
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