New faces take a bow for Linnets

CHRIS LAKEY Tommy Taylor will start midfielder Ashley Nicholls as King's Lynn continue their pre-season campaign with a trip to Lowestoft this afternoon.


Tommy Taylor will start midfielder Ashley Nicholls as King's Lynn continue their pre-season campaign with a trip to Lowestoft this afternoon.

The King's Lynn boss knows the 24-year-old well, having had him on his staff when manager at Darlington, and now that he is available has agreed to let both parties “take a look at each other”.

Nicholls, 24, began his career down the east coast as a trainee at Ipswich before moving to Darlington and Rushden & Diamonds and also had a loan spell at Cambridge United.

“He's a very good footballer, very good, and he loves scoring goals,” said Taylor.

Also making his first start will be new keeper Shaun Marshall, who put pen to paper this week, although Arron Benstead will play the second half. Left-back Lewis Blois is unavailable while Taylor has yet to decide whether to take former Norwich youth players Adam Gusterson and Lee Howlett.

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“I have offered them a contract but I don't know what they want to do yet,” he said. “I have to go with my budget.”

Taylor will take all his available first team squad players, although not all will last the course until the start of the season.

“I am down to about 20 players at the moment and that will end up at about 18, so there are a couple still playing for places,” he said.

The Linnets lost their opening summer game against Dagenham & Redbridge and will face another tough test today against a side which clinched the Ridgeons League Premier Division crown last season.

“It will be a good test - but I think every pre-season game is a good test,” said Taylor. “It is not about winning, it is about getting people a game, coming through without injuries, getting fit and playing to a plan - and playing it well.”

Lynn have another friendly on Monday, against Boston United at The Walks (7.45pm), where the biggest concern may be how the pitch hold sup in the current hot and dry spell.

“The groundsman is really working hard on it,” said Taylor. “He is trying to keep it right and that's why we only have three games on it, because we knew what the weather could be like.”

Lowestoft are likely to field a similar side to the one which finished the end of last season on such a high note, although a foot injury is likely to rule out Gary McGee for the beginning of the new campaign and Greg Crane is trying his luck in pastures new.

Joint manager Mickey Chapman said: “Greg Crane is trying his luck with Cambridge United and we wish him all the best - he's a top player and will be missed, but it's a benchmark of how far we've come in that other, higher league clubs are interested in your players.

“All the rest of the first team squad have signed contracts, and a lot of them now have longer contracts - that includes Ross King who was under contract anyhow and has now signed a longer deal.

“I'd also quash any talk linking us with Stuart Jopling. That would be a step backwards given all the strikers we have - Gary McGee, Russell Stock, Ross King, Ali McKenna and Bradley Hough - at the club, and there's no truth in that.”

Chapman admitted that all of last season's reserve team - including Ryan De Coteau, who spent much of the last campaign injured - and the youth team squad had re-signed.

“We've also signed Richi High, Ryan Bloomfield, Liam Fayle-Parr, Rory French and a young lad called Joe Cooper,” Chapman said. “And we're also in talks to sign another goalkeeper to work with Andy Reynolds and a defender with Ridgeons League experience.”

Adding that the players were really excited about the new season, Chapman said: “It will be a hard season as everyone wants to beat the champions - but we have a fantastic squad of players.

“But while we start this campaign as league champions, we can't rest on that - we've got to do everything again.

“We are excited -things are looking good for the whole club and everything is looking rosy,” Chapman added.

“Ady and I are very, very happy with what we've got and everyone is looking forward to the new season.”

Kirkley travel to Fakenham this afternoon, while Wisbech Town are at Holbeach United.