Far from a fine mess as Stanley on board for ShotsBy Jon Couch
July 05, 2012
ALDERSHOT Town boss Dean Holdsworth insisted his capture of midfield workhorse Craig Stanley was a "no-brainer" as he ticked off another name on his summer shopping list.
The tough-tackling 29-year-old arrives at the EBB Stadium from Bristol Rovers on a two-year deal after making more than 400 career appearances for Morecambe and Hereford United, as well as loan spells with Torquay United and Scottish club Raith Rovers.
His signing came at the end of another busy week for the Shots boss, who finally secured the services of popular captain Ben Herd on a year-long extension, although long-serving left-back Anthony Straker left to sign for Southend United after rejecting terms of a new contract.
Stanley links up with Holdsworth’s new defensive quartet of Anthony Tonkin, Olly Lancashire, Troy Brown and Guy Branston, and the boss was delighted to welcome him on board.
“I watched Craig four or five times last season and he was outstanding, playing a big part in getting Torquay to the play-offs.
"He has got a wealth of experience in this division and has got the winning habit, so when I knew he might be available it was absolutely no gamble whatsoever. It was a no-brainer.
“He’s a solid, hard grafter who works box-to-box and also gives us another leader on the pitch.
"I felt at times last season that we needed more vocal leadership on the pitch, and he, along with Ben Herd and Guy Branston, gives us that.”
Stanley himself told Premium Shots this week: “I know the division well and Aldershot were an improving side last season. I want to be part of a squad that is capable of pushing all the time.
“There are a lot of good players at the club. It is an exciting time to join. We have a tough pre-season first and there will be plenty of hard work ahead.”
Stanley joined his new Shots team-mates and a number of trialists as the squad began pre-season training this week.
Among those back up and running were forward pair Alex Rodman and Michael Rankin, who missed the second half of last season through illness and injury respectively, but are now raring to go for the new campaign.
“It’s like having two new signings at the club,” Holdsworth added. “It's great having Alex back, and Michael has the bit between his teeth and is looking very sharp indeed.
"He’s got a bit of catching up to do, but if we can get him match-fit and to where I think he can be, then we have a serious player on our hands.
“I’m delighted with the way the lads have settled in. They all seem to have stuck to their fitness plans and are gelling really nicely already.”
Holdsworth also revealed he was “almost finished” with his dabbling in the transfer market, but is still keeping his options open should any more targets become available.
“We’re almost done now,” he commented. “There are one or two players and a few trialists that we are looking at but we won’t be going into the season with a huge squad. I’m pleased with what we've got and I think overall we have improved the strength of our squad.”
Meanwhile, Aldershot Town’s eagerly-awaited Capital One Cup clash at Championship new boys Wolverhampton Wanderers will now be played on Saturday, August 11 with a 3pm kick-off.
Football League bosses gave the go-ahead to bring the ties forward to a week before the season’s start, a notion welcomed by both Holdsworth and his new Wolves counterpart Stale Solbakken.
“It's better for both managers,” the Shots boss said. “Football can throw up any number of challenges and at least it gives us a week to recover from any knocks and prepare for our first league game.”
Reduced ticket prices are likely to be available for this match at £10 for adults and £5 concessions, further details will be released in due course.