It's clear that Notts need signings. Even before we played our first two friendlies, against Rolls-Royce and Basford, it was very clear. In terms of transfer activity, our three signings so far puts us 20th in League Two in terms of how many players we've brought in.
At the current moment in time we can only just about fill a matchday squad. Improvements and a bit of squad depth is definitely needed. Every position, apart from left-back, needs either a new signing who is going to come into the starting XI or a new signing which will add depth.
Firstly let's start in goal. Adam Collin showed last season he can be prone to making more than one mistake in a game and many fans have wanted him replaced. Although he has his faults, it's hard to see Kevin Nolan dropping him from the first team. Joe Searson-Smithard is Notts through and through but at the moment I don't think he's ready for the first team, though it would be nice to see him become our No.1 in the near future.
A few goalkeepers have been on trial for the two friendlies as expected in pre season with Connor Brennan, Joe Cracknell and Ross Fitzsimons joining the team. Any of these three would be nice just as back-up.
Right-back was a bit of the problem until the other day when me and my brother realised Jordan Richards could be back-up to Matt Tootle. In my opinion, we should have kept Luther Wildin as back-up, so we didn't have to spend in that area. As we know Tootle picked up a few injuries last season but under the management of Kevin Nolan he has been solid. But if injuries start piling up, we need someone to fill the spot.
Well well well. The wonderful world of centre-backs. Everyone has split opinions on Richard Duffy and Haydn Hollis. If you watched my vlogs last season, you'll know I was very critical of Duffy during the awful run between November and early January. But under Nolan, he was transformed and had a solid partnership with Hollis and on occasions, Thierry Audel to see us comfortably to safety. Hollis has divided opinion ever since the Great Escape in 2014. Well, here he is, still with us after signing another new contract. This year he has to prove his future lies here. We have the manager, the owner, the facitlies and now is his time to prove the haters wrong and prove that he belongs in the Notts first team.
But sadly we're not all rosy in this part of the pitch. In my opinion a Duffy-Hollis partnership will not take us up. And at the minute they are our only two centrebacks at the club. Mike Edwards is back-up. He's our fitness coach. Edwards cannot be playing again next season if we want to win promotion. He's a nice guy but he shouldn't have to be called upon on the pitch. So one or two required in this area. Pierce Bird from Dunkirk (who I think we should sign) has been on trial and youth team player Peter Dearle has played in friendlies. At the start of the window, Notts approached Lincoln City captain Luke Waterfall but he rejected our terms and offered to sign a contract extension at Sincil Bank. A move for a defender recently collapsed so we are back to square one.
I would like to sign ex-Wycombe defender Aaron Pierre but after recently having a trial at Bristol City but not being offered a contract it's probable that he might end up in League One. Kevin Toner on loan from Aston Villa wouldn't be a bad transfer as he spent time on loan at a Bradford City side that reached the play-off final last season. James Wilson didn't start regurlarly for Sheffield United last season so he could be worth a look as well. This would make sense as the Blades recently bought Richard Stearman in from Wolves. Another centre-back I'd like is Dominic Ball from Rotherham whether on loan or permanent. He is also a player I said we should have got on loan in January. Tom Anderson on loan from Burnley would be another decent signing as he has had previous experience of lower league after two loan spells at Chesterfield and one at Carlisle.
Moving onto the wing and yes, whilst we have signed Lewis Alessandra and Terry Hawkridge, we are still a little short. And if injuries happen we need players to replace them. I would like to see Sam Osborne get more games this season but whether he's ready or not remains to be seen. Milan Lalkovic on loan from Portsmouth would not be a bad shout as he hasn't played regularly for last season's League Two champions. He scored 7 goals from the wing in a Walsall team that reached the play offs in League One in 2016. That was enough for Pompey to pay compensation for his services last summer. A winger from the Premier League or Championship on loan wouldn't go amiss, and as shown previously they can be a big threat at League Two level. Luke Gambin or Lawson D'Ath from Luton would be good signings for this level as well. Both signed in January and so far D'Ath has struggled to break into the Hatters first team.
Moving swiftly into centre midfield and the saga that Notts have only just seen the back of. Notts made four bids for Liam Noble and none were successful. The saga has consumed the Magpies' transfer window up until now and no matter how much Notts tried, Forest Green weren't going to budge. At the start, it was clear £100k was going to be enough, but only a few weeks and four bids later, FGR manager Mark Cooper told BBC Radio Gloucester that the former Notts midfielder was not for sale. Since we wanted him, I said I didn't want him back because of his previous disciplinary record, he's not worth £100k and there are better out there.
One player who is better and one that we should of got was Louis Reed, on loan from Sheffield United but recently signed for Chesterfield. Jermaine Anderson of Peterborough is another player I would aim for on loan but has injury problems in the last year or two. I would like to sign Connor Dimaio but I can't see him leaving Chesterfield. Other players we could look at in this area are Ryan Yates (Forest), Jordon Houghton (Doncaster), Giorgio Rasulo (MK Dons) and Ben Whitfield (Bournemouth).
Strikers are needed. I've constantly said on Twitter that strikers are a must. Stead and Ameobi are 34 and 35 respectively and whilst Stead scored 14 last season we need someone else and someone with pace. Notts had were linked with Matt Godden but that soon fizzled out. Football League World have said that we should get Toni Martinez on loan from West Ham. The Spaniard has already had one loan spell previously and that was at Oxford United last season. With a few West Ham fans wanting him to be given a chance, this would a fantastic signing for League Two level. Another Premier League player we should be interested in taking on loan is Callum Roberts from Newcastle. He has done really well in the youth team at Newcastle and had a short spell in the England Under 20 team.
Moving away from loanees and into permanent transfers. Oliver Hawkins is a player we really need to look at, he scored 18 goals in the National League last season for Dagenham and Redbridge. Portsmouth have already declared their interest but do not want to pay the money. Dagenham have said they want £250k for Hawkins but this price seems a bit much. Another striker who scored 18 in the National League last season is Danny Johnson from Gateshead. A delve into non-league for strikers would not be a bad decision at all.