Touchline team are top operators

Matlock Town's management duo have been hailing their touchline team as they prepare for the 2017-18 EVO-STIK Northern Premier League season.

Joint Gladiators bosses Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood, pictured celebrating their county cup success in May, heaped praise on first team coach Danny Cox, goalkeeping coach Adam Sollitt and physio Mark Mullins this week ahead of the club's return for preseason training on Saturday 24 June.

Hopkins led the tributes to the trio for their roles in helping the Gladiators lift the Derbyshire Senior Cup with a 5-0 win over Gresley FC in the final and secure a ninth-placed finish to the 2016-17 EVO-STIK NPL Premier Division campaign.

Hopkins said: “We have a management team of five as far as Kirky and me are concerned. They’ve all played and will continue to play vital roles at Matlock Town.

"We’ve known Coxy for years, everyone loves him, his enthusiasm and commitment know no bounds. Soll was with me at Kettering and has a huge knowledge of the game. He sees things that sometimes Kirky and me don’t see and has been brilliant in coaching Phil Barnes knowing when to push him and when to give him a rest.

"Mugga [Mullins] is a fantastic physio who has played professionally and at a high level in Non-League. He too has his say if he sees anything that could help us, we trust him one hundred per cent.

Looking ahead to their squad's return, he said: "The summer goes so quick, Grantham actually were back for pre season training last Saturday. Adam Stevens did a tremendous job there last season so if that works for them why change it? We’re still talking to players, some have opted for Conference North clubs but we’ll still keep a close eye on them.

"For us it’s about getting the right players and the right balance and for us that means young hungry players. Loan players will no doubt be included but that’s more when the season’s started, we’ll be looking to get a couple in and we’ve spoken to a number of Football League managers who say they’ll be able to help us out.

"We’re presently looking at three or four forwards. Obviously Nangs [Marcus Dinanga] has gone back to Burton but everyone else seems keen to stay. It seems very quiet as opposed to last season when we were scrambling about for players and were looking to bring fourteen or fifteen in. This year it’s important to keep what we’ve got and then build and expand on it.”

Hopkins is happy with Matlock’s pre-season programme - home games against Chesterfield, Sheffield United, Mansfield Town, Burton Albion and Belper Town along with visits to South Normanton, Staveley, Worksop Town and Heanor Town.

He added: "Nine games is just right and is always what we aim for. Nobody does nine times ninety minutes, we build their fitness up and we keep records of how many minutes each player has had during those matches, we’ve done this for nine years now. It’s a matter of building up slowly, everyone also having a fair opportunity ahead of the new season.”

Images courtesy of @Matlock_TownFC

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