The new Thurlow Nunn League season may still be over seven weeks away, but Newmarket Town manager Kevin Grainger is wasting no time in building a squad capable of pushing for promotion, writes Liam Apicella.
Despite having a largely positive 2016/17 campaign — finishing third and reaching the final of the League Challenge Cup — The Jockeys were hit by injuries at key times.
Adam Dalby and Scott Paterson were sidelined for much of the season, while an ankle injury forced attacker Austen Diaper to miss the final defeat at the hands of Mildenhall Town.
However, this time around, Grainger is hoping his side will not be as affected by injuries, with Steve Holder and Alex Steed agreeing to sign on at The Ridgeons Stadium.
It is a swift return for striker Holder, who left Newmarket for Stowmarket Town midway through last season, while midfielder Steed arrives having previously played for the likes of Mildenhall, Bury Town and Walsham-le-Willows.
“If we are going to have a right good go at it in the league, we need more competition for places,” said Grainger.
“Steve struggled for fitness last year after a serious injury but he has gone away, scored some goals and is ready to fight for his place.
“As for Steedy, we already have good midfielders, so he will make it competition for places even tougher.
“There are a lot of games next season so we are going to need all of the players.”
Also joining Holder and Steed at Newmarket is centre-back Jordan Lambert, who most recently turned out for Great Shelford.
Meanwhile, a whole host of last season’s squad have agreed to re-sign, including Lewis Whitehead, Jamie Thurlbourne, Jack Watson and James Chivers.
However, defender Luke Seaber-Shinn and experienced goalkeeper Ben Nower are moving on.