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With the announcement of Adam Chicksen, Notts seem to have indicated that we're done in the transfer market. I like this approach, that we are satisfied with our squad even though there is still 3 weeks left until the season begins. Although it is very difficult to gauge some of the new signings, with many being trial by Youtube / judging on 45 minutes again Ilkeston Town, I thought it could be interesting to gather some initial thoughts on the make up of our squad. 

Goalkeepers:

Sam Slocombe - 8 - Consistent keeper that does most things well. Very confident in him behind our backline. 
Luke Pilling - 5 - A bit of an unknown. Released from a team relegated from L1, but never given a chance. Apart from a loan to the 7th tier, not much else to judge him on.
Jake Kean - N/A - Emergency backup but main job is a coach.
Tiernan Brooks - N/A - Notts have already indicated he will be going out on loan to get some first team minutes. Fair enough.

Strengths: Starting keeper is very strong (Slocombe), but suffered an injury last season which he, and we, will be keen to avoid a repeat of.
Weaknesses: Backup keeper is a bit of an unknown.

Defenders:

Right Backs:

Richard Brindley - 7 - He's a good fullback at this level, but he does have some limitations as highlighted in the playoff final.
Dion Kelly-Evans - 7 - Tenacious player that will offer good rotation with Brindley. Be interesting to see which of them has the most apps come the end of the season.

Left Backs:

Damien McCrory - 7 - He's a good fullback at this level, but he does have some limitations as highlighted in the playoff final.
Adam Chicksen - 7 - Played at a higher level fairly consistently, good player for rotation with McCrory.

Centre Backs:

Adam Lacey - 9 - Really good player. Not only is he good defensively, but also he is so cool and collected with the ball, a rarity.
Connell Rawlinson - 8 - He just looks like a CB. Big, strong, looks like he catches his dinner at night before collecting the wood to make the fire. Does the simple stuff well and also has developed a knack of stepping out of the back 4 as another dimension to his game.
Ben Turner - 6 - He's big and strong, but too slow and clumsy with the ball at his feet. Additionally, if he's turned, he's done. Injury prone.
Sam Graham - 6 - I know many are a fan, but I've seen enough of him to suggest that he's prone to big mistakes, both with us and when he played with CCM in the A-league. Hope he proves me wrong with more (error free) game time this season.

Strengths: We have a stable back-line that is largely the same as last year, with only one addition (Chicksen). The starting back line is strong and there are very able deputies in both fullback positions.

Weaknesses: The backup options at CB could be a weak point. There are a few players there that are liable to either repeat or long-term injuries (Turner, Graham and McCrory last season alone).

Midfielders:

Michael Doyle - 7 - Relishes that 'quarter-back' role that we saw him play so often. Still a strong player, but a fast, high-pressing team can overrun him, as seen in the play-off final. Needs a strong runner next to him at times.

Jim O'Brien - 6.5 - He's a good player that can pick a pass, but sometimes he looks a bit predictable and slow. I can't see a Doyle-O'Brien central pairing working; they would be easily overran. Could form 2 of a 3, though. Injury prone.

Jake Reeves - 8 - From some of the highlights online, combined with the thoughts from other teams' fans and his performance against Ilkeston, he looks a very good signing that will inject that energy and pace that was so lacking in the play-off final. Coming back from a relatively recent long-term injury, so will need to keep an eye on that.

Casper Sloth - 6 - Despite being arguably the most prestigious of the squad, we don't really know what we will get from him. Can he rediscover form, or will his (reported) bad attitude get in the way? Could take time to get up to speed. 

Strengths: 3 midfielders with plenty of know-how and experience above this level. The weakness last season has been identified and filled with Reeves. 

Weaknesses: Sloth is a bit of an unknown and I'm not sure O'Brien - Doyle works. 

Attacking Midfielders/Wingers:

Cal Roberts- 10 - A class beyond this league or even ones above us. Destined for bigger things and I doubt Notts can keep pace with him beyond this season.

Enzio Boldewijn - 7 - A fantastic option to have and a potential game changer, but then again so inconsistent. Will still scare the life out of some defences.

Ruben Rodrigues - 7.5 - It's a punt from Notts, but an exciting one. A bit of research all comes out positive, so does trial by Youtube and 45 minutes for Ilkeston. Looks to be positive and able to thrust through those annoyingly stubborn defences, a trait we will need this season. However, bit of an unknown especially in this country and at this level.

Strengths: Cal Roberts. The other 2 aren't too shabby either. Blessed with talent in these positions.

Weaknesses: Depending on formation, it could be considered we lack a bit of depth here, although it has been mentioned O'Brien could fill in here too, plus Wes Thomas and the other strikers, I would imagine.

Forwards:

Kyle Wootton - 8 - Impressive that we saw how good he is and went out and paid a fee to have him here permanently. Strong, holds up the ball well and brings others into play. Also can find the net. 

Wes Thomas - 7 - Pacey and direct.  Stretches teams that try to push up high by turning them around. Finishing ability sometimes lets him down. Not going to give us 30 goals a season, but could reach double figures.

Elisha Sam - 6 - Trial by Youtube shows that he is a young, exciting player. Although he's a big bloke, looks skilled with the ball at his feet. Looked raw at Ilkeston and could take a while before we see what he is capable of. Bit of an unknown. 

Jimmy Knowles - 5 - Strange signing. Couldn't get many games at a poor L2 side, but described as a tenacious, pacy striker who won't stop running, which could be very useful to bring on off the bench with 10 minutes to go. However, he has come here for game time, but will be 4th choice behind the above 3, plus potentially Roberts/Enzio/Rodrigues, depending on formation. Doesn't make much sense for me.

Strengths: Very good all-round striker in Wootton and a pacey dribbler in Thomas. Potential to mix it up with the height of Sam. The attacking midfielders above can also fill these forward positions as needed.

Weaknesses: We don't really have the 'fox in the box' or natural finisher that we had in Dennis. Could be argued that we rely heavily on the fitness and form of Wootton. Sam and Knowles are of unknown qualities. 

 

Overall:
 

Average Ratings:

Goalkeepers:  6.5
Defenders: 7.125
Midfielders: 6.875
Attacking Midfielders: 8.167
Forwards: 6.5

Analysis:

The average rating of the keepers' is simply an unknown backup quality, similar to the forwards. Here, Notts are taking a bit of a gamble. It also highlights how these players' with an unknown quality will impact the overall squad; if 75% of these are hits, it's a very good squad, but with 75%  being misses, it becomes just a good squad with limitations, especially given the amount of games. This could be the difference between promotion, and not. 

We have some very good attacking midfielders and this is our strongest position, closely followed by the back 4. 

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Sam Slocombe - 8 - Solid keeper I feel, he's good enough to be playing in League One I feel.
Luke Pilling - N/A - I don't know anything about him.
Jake Kean - N/A - Useful to have around, IF he is willing to play when most needed.
Tiernan Brooks - N/A - Decent knowing about our youth team to a degree, I can't say much until Brooks has made a senior appearance. He seemed to have good handling skills in youth games but how he will deal with the mental side of stepping into a first-team is unknown.

Defenders:

Right Backs:

Richard Brindley - 8 - When in the zone and, in good form he's a very good defender. Good going forward when supported by the winger in front of him.
Dion Kelly-Evans - 7 - A good prospect, not sure how he will adapt further in time but a good player to have - gives 100%

Left Backs:

Damien McCrory - 7 - Experienced with a good level of drive going forward, he has the ability to do well at the back.
Adam Chicksen - 8 - Quite pacey, very direct with the ball and the type of left back that teams generally dislike playing against - again a good level of experience.

Centre Backs:

Adam Lacey - 9 - Best defender at the club for me, he's a solid defender who can play well with experience alongside him - nice to see a defender who can also pass the ball.
Connell Rawlinson - 9 - His experience speaks volumes with the impact he can make, a very strong defender who isn't easily put off from doing his duties - willing to fight to drive the club forward.
Ben Turner - 6 - As @Super_Danny_Allsopp: he's injury prone, did well against Barnet in the Playoffs but poorly in the final. Very inconsistent for me.
Sam Graham - 5 or 7 depending - If he comes back the same defender that left, he would easily be my preference to fill in if needed over Rawlinson or Lacey. If he is nervous or takes time to get into form, then I feel a rating of 5 is only fair. As a player keen to play he does well, but is prone to being Bambi type player.

Midfielders:

Michael Doyle - 6 - He could offer the club something, but I am not convinced that he's not past it now.
Jim O'Brien - 7 - Passion, drive and is a very good player - often out shadowed due to the Doyle lovers.
Jake Reeves - 7 - Good player but not without his problems, if we get the Reeves which Ardley has worked with before I would be very happy.
Casper Sloth - 8- Solid player who should be one of the best players in the upcoming season, he's a leader at heart and someone who offers creativity which we have lacked. 

Attacking Midfielders/Wingers:

Cal Roberts- 10 - He needs to be stuck in 4th or 5th gear to be a player who is clearly of another level. If allowed to become a shadow, he's less effective but he can carry the team and show some amazing class.
Enzio Boldewijn - 6 - Overrated by some, underrated by others. He's a good player on his day, but to be in good form he needs to focus and work hard. He's a luxury and someone who doesn't always dig deep enough. 
Ruben Rodrigues - 7 - He could be an outstanding signing, looks a good direct player who likes to dictate play. Will he adapt to the English game? I think his pace and energy will be a good thing. I see him being more of a centre midfielder based on his own comments in training, he likes to play behind the strikers in a AM position.

Forwards:

Kyle Wootton - 9 - If he keeps his head down, focused and works on his game - he will be a massive part of our future. Great player who is very down to earth.
Wes Thomas - 8 - Vastly underrated in my opinion. He's a natural goalscorer, who was described by some fans as being unable to hit a barn door. He scored some very good goals, missed some too but that's why he's not player at a higher level. Thomas impacted the Playoff final against Harrogate and shown why he's a good addition to our sqaud.
Elisha Sam - 7 - Looks to be a good player, with a decent amount of pace and has the ability to hold up the ball. Time will tell if he works out for us. 
Jimmy Knowles - NA - I don't know him, but he seems to be one of those signings captured on a whim and will mostly be a bench warmer.

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Great post @Super_Danny_Allsopp - have you thought of doing a blog?

It looks like a solid squad with a good combination of experience, flair and no little quality. We seem to have stuck to the strategy of recruiting players from higher levels looking to get their mojos back, which to be fair served us well last season. I was hoping to see us cherry-pick the best players from the smaller clubs in this division, as they know the league and are a safer bet.

All but two of our first 11 from last season are still here, and that continuity is important if you want to mount a sustained challenge. However, I do feel the squad could do with one or two more additions. We currently have 19 outfield players, a number of which have no or little senior experience in this country and a couple of which are a tad injury-prone. That's a gamble, and with the ridiculously intensive programme we'll be relying on virtually all of them to come good.

We could still do with more depth on the wings - Shields and Osborne have left, robbing us of any depth we had in that department (and Enzio does need competition for his place). Rodrigues is a central player, no idea whether he'd be any good out wide. I wouldn't be surprised to see a winger come in on loan at the last minute.

I'm also not sure we've strengthened up front - Dennis didn't really have the biggest impact on games, but he is a proven goalscorer. Instead, we've brought in two players who are completely unknown quantities. The jury is out!

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