Four players on AFC’s wish list

The MEL Group Stadium, Sudbury. 'AFC Sudbury v Great Wakering Rovers. ''Pictured; No 9 James Baker celebrates with Bubi Ogbonna.
The MEL Group Stadium, Sudbury. 'AFC Sudbury v Great Wakering Rovers. ''Pictured; No 9 James Baker celebrates with Bubi Ogbonna.

AFC Sudbury fans can look forward to four new arrivals at King’s Marsh this summer as Nicky Smith looks to build a squad capable of reaching the Ryman League Premier Division.

But their most important signing could already be done and dusted, with the Sudbury chief declaring James Baker as his best ever capture after the 24-goal hitman penned a new deal.

In total, 12 of last season’s squad, who just missed out on a Ryman League Division One North play-off spot, have committed themselves to 2011/12, with Smith believing four more are needed.

“Apart from the 12 that have signed on from last season, I am looking to get a squad of 16,” he said.

“I have spoken to players but they have been on contracts and most are wanting silly money.”

Smith says he will only bring in players that will “vastly improve” his existing team and is casting his net over the Blue Square Bet Premier for potential new recruits. But he admitted finding players who will step down the football league ladder for less money in Sudbury’s rural location could prove a stumbling block.

But with players such as Baker, Michael Shinn, Dave Wareham, Dan Emmanuel and Sam Clarke having already signed on again, the spine of the team is already taken care of.

And Smith believes Baker’s new deal in particular is a massive boost to his promotion ambitions.

“For me he is the total package really,” said Smith. “He is a real handful for defenders and if you speak to any manager they hate playing against him.

“It is probably one of the best signings I have ever made - a lot of teams were interested in him but he loves it here.”

Smith has already declared Suffolk under-18s goalkeeper Fred Howe as his number one for the forthcoming season after he broke into the first team set-up following Nicky Eyre’s departure.

AFC have announced they will play seven pre-season friendlies, against: Long Melford (July 12), Witham Town (July 16), Fakenham Town (July 23), Halstead Town (July 29), Clacton Town (August 2), Bury Town (August 5) and Lowestoft Town (August 13). All the games will be away from home, with the MEL Group Stadium pitch undergoing drainage works.

Meanwhile Ware, who AFC beat 5-1 at home last August, will be back at King’s Marsh next season after Enfield’s failed promotion bid, due to their ground failing a standards check, triggered a series of changes that means Ware will not be moved to the Zamaretto Southern League.