2:49pm, Mon 27th Jul 2009
I spoke to Graham earlier today to get his reactions to the recent friendly games and to find out whether final decisions had been made on the trialists. See the announcement earlier today on the latter.
I hadnâ€™t spoken to Graham since before the Godalming game, so we started there. Clearly, Graham, like Woking fans, was disappointed with the performance at Wey Court, even making allowance for the fact that heâ€™d put out a young side. He had hoped that the players selected would have given the Gs a tougher contest but conceded that it was â€˜men against boysâ€™ in the second half. He explained that the trialists he had thrown on in the second half were essentially there to â€˜make up the numbersâ€™, and to â€˜protect his squadâ€™, and had not been in serious contention for a contract.
Graham said that the timing of the Woking and Maybury Sports Club game â€“ the second in three successive friendly games â€“ meant that it was always going to be a match in which he would play a young Cards side. Heâ€™d enjoyed the evening, though. There had been a great atmosphere and it had given him a chance to see a few 1st year Academy boys whom he hadnâ€™t yet seen in action. It was always good too for the Academy players to get a chance to play at Kingfield, so it was useful experience for them as well.
Turning to Saturdayâ€™s game at Totton, Graham said that this was the first friendly in which he was expecting his side to â€˜go seriously at itâ€™. It provided an excellent test of fitness levels: he was pleased to see the side get stronger and stronger as the match progressed, and there were signs of good partnerships developing between players. Graham was very satisfied with the performance and result and said that it was particularly pleasing to see Tom Hutchinson play the full 90 minutes without any ill effects and grab three goals in the process.
On the injury front, Jerome Maledon is still recovering slowly. Jon Boardman didnâ€™t figure on Saturday because of a slight groin strain: his fitness will be assessed today but Graham says that he wonâ€™t take any risks by hurrying him back into action. Joe McNerney should be playing later this week.
Sam Sloma has returned from the futsal tournament in Israel, will be training with his team mates today and will be available for selection on Tuesday evening against the Shots. Graham says that he expects to field a similar line-up to the side which played at Totton and he confirmed that Gary Waddock should be bringing his strongest possible side.
Finally, Graham confirmed that his priority now is to sign a striker. It sounds as if he hasnâ€™t entirely given up hope of bringing Peter Vincenti in on loan, although there is, apparently, a substantial gap between Stevenage Borough and ourselves on finances, but he has other irons in the fire if this doesnâ€™t materialise. On the goalkeeping front, Rodney Chiweshe is still recovering from injury but Graham hopes to make a decision on him in the next five days.