It’s a good time to be a Notts fan. We’re top of the league. Our manager recently signed a new contract. And we are through to the second round of the FA Cup.
Alan Hardy has already said that we have an eye towards the January transfer window and this is something that excites many in the Notts fan base because despite being top of the league, we are looking to get even better, and we are trying to sustain our position in the top three of League Two.
The stepping stones look already in place with the capture of Liam Noble on a free transfer. That ticks off one position which was needed; a creative midfielder. Hopefully, Kevin Nolan can bring about the best in Noble and we can see a different player to the one we saw here just over a year ago.
Now we’ve got the creative midfielder out of the way, there are three key areas Notts need to strengthen to help keep our place amongst the automatic promotion places.
Firstly, and most importantly, a pacey striker is a must. Age is also a factor - he must be young. All our main strikers are over thirty.
We have already expressed our interest in Mansfield striker Danny Rose, but that speculation was quickly swept under the carpet by Steve Evans. We were also linked with Andy Cook in the summer from Tranmere, but the former Barrow striker stayed at Prenton Park.
One player I would like us to sign is Kristian Dennis and although this may require a fee, Chesterfield are in dire straits and Hardy has already said he is willing to back Nolan in the transfer window for a striker. And I would still like to see us go in for Jerry Yates I’d rather the striker sign permanent than it be a loan.
Other strikers we could potentially look at are Corey Whitely from Dagenham & Redbridge, who is currently second top scorer in the National League with eight goals.
Sitting just behind him on seven is Oladapo Afolayan of Solihull Moors. Solihull are currently bottom of the National League but Afolayan has done well to score this many in a poor side, at this stage of the season. However, this might be tricky as the Moors frontman is also being targeted by Barnsley and Bolton.
Alan Hardy said we are also looking to bring a winger to the club in January. This is crucial as it will provide good cover for Terry Hawkridge, Lewis Alessandra and Jorge Grant.
The winger must also have a killer instinct, a good cross on him, and is good at beating defenders. Some of the wingers I mentioned in my article about who I thought we should have signed in the summer are still available and haven’t played much this season.
Milan Lalkovic has only made one appearance for Portsmouth this season. Surprisingly, Pompey’s top scorer from last season, Kal Naismith, has only made nine appearances. This is lower than all the other wingers at Pompey: Matty Kennedy (13), Jamal Lowe (15), Kyle Bennett (14) and Gareth Evans (11). Although this may be a long shot, there is no harm in trying. Also mentioned in my summer article were Luton wingers Lawson D’Ath and Luke Gambin.
The third part of our January transfer window business is the need for some cover at centre back. Most of the options I mentioned for the summer transfer window signed for other clubs. A centre back is a priority as Haydn Hollis doesn’t seem to be picked anymore for league games and Elliott Hewitt can’t keep covering there as he is far better suited to playing in midfield.
We may have to consider the loan market for either the winger or centre-back due to the money it may cost in signing a first team striker, although we may sign the player from the club after they have released him like we did with Shaun Brisley and Mark Yeates.
However, the centre back who we buy must be good enough cover as our first choice pairing of Richard Duffy and Shaun Brisley are unbelievably solid and are unlikely to be replaced in the starting line-up.
Also, the defender we do buy must push Duffy and Brisley to their limits to remain in the first team constantly as Kevin Nolan always talks about competition for places. The players I have in mind but may not come off are Tom Davies and Dominic Hyam (both Coventry) and Joe Walsh (MK).
If we get the quality needed in the right areas and they settle in well at Notts, then a top three position is a very realistic target.