Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sent to Coventry

THIS was where things started to get serious this pre-season.
After the shadow-boxing of Evesham, Cirencester and Gloucester and the hard fitness work of Wales, this game, and the one on Saturday against Cardiff, will be the ones which will tell us most about the capabilities of our squad.
The diamond worked well on Saturday, but Mark Yates went back to 4-4-2 for this one, with a line-up of Scott Brown; Sido Jombati, Steve Elliott, Troy Brown, Craig Braham-Barrett; Jermaine McGlashan, Russ Penn, Matt Richards, Ashley Vincent; Jamie Cureton, Terry Gornell.
The main focus for me from that line-up would be to see how CBB would fare at left-back, the performances of the wide men and the Cureton-Gornell partnership in attack.
CBB did okay I felt. Nothing spectacular, he defended when he needed to in competent fashion and showed that he likes to get forward and looked to do so in support at every opportunity.
The wide men were fleeting in their impact. Both showed their pace on occasions and smoked past their full-backs, but only once in that first half, when Jermaine sent a great cross over which just evaded Cureton and Gornell, did they look really potent.
Jermaine led a counter-attack from a Coventry corner but was thwarted by good defending, but I felt that both struggled to get into the game for long periods.
Gornell worked hard, frequently dropping deep to try to link the play leaving Cureton to play off the shoulder of the defenders and use his movement to try and create space for others.
He had a couple of efforts on goal but in that first half we didn't really create much in the way of clear-cut efforts to test the Coventry goalkeeper.
Scott Brown was the busier goalkeeper, saving well from the lively Callum Wilson, via the post, and he and the experienced Leon Clarke gave Elliott and Troy Brown plenty to think about.
I have no concerns about that partnership going forward. They seem to have settled in well alongside each other, and if anything Brown has looked the more secure of the two.
He is not the tallest, but has a good spring on him and looks comfortable on the ball, and is a more than adequate League Two centre-back.
I felt the weak link in the back four was Sido, who looked very shaky, and will be definitely looking over his shoulder at Keith Lowe and fearing for his place in the side.
I wasn't overly convinced with the 4-4-2 as it doesn't afford much protection to the back four, as was shown when Clarke had too much time to pick his spot for Coventry's opening goal.
The starting side lasted an hour, then we gradually saw changes introduced, with Lowe, Billy Jones, Sam Deering, Byron Harrison, Jason Taylor, Zack Kotwica and triallist George Bowerman coming on at regular intervals.
Some of the new arrivals made better impressions than others, with Jones, Deering and young Kotwica the pick of them.
CBB will definitely give competition to Jones, but as it stands now I would see Billy starting the season, as he just seems to have that bit more composure and better distribution, but it will be interesting to see how that one pans out.
Deering has, I feel, been the best overall pre-season performer and is putting his hand up to be a regular in the first 11. That wouldn't be part of a two-man central midfield, or in a wide role - he has to either play off a front man or at the top of the diamond.
As for Kotwica, we need to guard against building the kid up too quickly. Remember when Marley Watkins came along, and when Theo Lewis scored as a 16-year-old against Southampton.
We thought this is it - the next best thing. One is now in Inverness, the other in Salisbury, so we must be careful, and not expect too much too soon.
When he came on, he was up against Cyrus Christie, and didn't get anywhere, and it was his error which allowed Christie to run through and score the second goal.
But when he went off, he had a field day against the full-back and it was noticeable that whenever the ball was played over the top, it was directed towards him, rather than out to Jermaine on the other side.
He showed good awareness to anticipate a piece of chest control and lay-off from Harrison, forcing the keeper into a save, and got a couple of crosses over, one of which was nearly finished off by Bowerman.
In his 25-minute cameo, I would say he was more of a threat from an attacking point of view than Vincent and McGlashan.
He needs work on his defensive responsibilities, but there is food for thought for Yates - while I cannot see him in the starting 11, but as is stands he may well be put on the bench early on.
Taylor and Lowe were their usual steady selves, and I thought Bowerman did well in the 12 minutes he had - and we need another forward. I wonder if the money could be found for that one... just might be worth a shout in my view.
I don't like to be over-critical, but he was, I'm afraid, sharper than Harrison, who set up that run for Kotwica but failed to take two half-chances for himself.
I know it's pre-season, but you want players going into the season with confidence and I think Byron's is very low at the moment.
One chance came from a McGlashan cross which was missed by the defender. Byron was in the right place but also missed it. The other was a shot which led to a rejected handball appeal.
There is a place up for grabs alongside Cureton, but at the moment I feel Byron is handing it to Terry Gornell on a plate rather than making him fight for it. He's got two more chances to turn it around.
There were plusses from last night, but also still a number of questions remain.
I think seven players - Scott Brown, Jones, Elliott, Troy Brown, Penn, Richards and Cureton - have pencilled themselves in for Burton. From what I have seen so far, I would play a diamond, and my other four would be Lowe at right-back, Taylor, Deering and Gornell.
I won't be at the Cardiff game as I am off to Scotland, but will be back for Kidderminster, when I think the riddles over that starting side may be answered - I think the eleven which emerges at Aggborough may get the nod...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The present and the future

Today was a unique chance to see the future of Cheltenham Town this morning, before hot -footing it to see how the first-team squad's preparations are coming along.
Russ Milton's under 18 side were playing Notts County, who didn't deserve anything out of the game simply for wearing a hideous orange and black hooped kit.
As it turned out, they were not given any chance by an excellent display from our youngsters, who gave even more evidence that there is a lot of talent bubbling under the surface.
Their numbers were bolstered by young pros Joe Hanks and Ed Williams, who were 'loaned back' as it was felt that they would be better off getting the best part of 90 minutes in, rather than playing a 15-20 minute bit-part later on against Gloucester.
The decision was vindicated as Hanks and Williams were both very impressive playing in a midfield three alongside second-year scholar Harry Williams, who scored a well-taken third goal and looks another fine prospect.
Harvey Rivers was in goal, with first-year Callum Craddock at right-back, Elliott Keightley and Spencer Hamilton in the centre and James Bowen at left-back.
Outside Hanks and the two Williams' were Zack Kirkpatrick-Jones on the left and a triallist on the right with Bobbie Dale up front.
Of the second-year scholars who joined Dale in Wales with the first-team, Adam Powell  was injured and Zack Kotwica was with the first team. More of him later...
Dale's goal gave us a half-time lead, and we could have had more with Bowen having one chalked off for offside and Kirkpatrick-Jones hitting the post.
Eavesdropping Russ's half-time team-talk, he was happy with his boys, but wanted them to be a bit more clinical and maintain their intensity in the second half.
Dale added a second and Harry Williams finished off a good move for the third, and there could have been more goals, with Ed Williams having a shot saved amongst other chances.
The late minutes gave a chance to see some of the new first-years, including Jamie Goodwin up front, Reece Daly in midfield and defender Liam Sheppard, and second-year Keiron Whitehead, and apart from conceding a goal they also came out with credit.
Russ was delighted after the game, and with the three midfield starters plus Powell, and the wide men Bowen, Kirkpatrick-Jones and Kotwica, the future in those positions looks very bright indeed. Apparently there are more jewels in the lower age groups too...
As Russ put it, if things go well "this club might not have to buy a winger or midfielder for a few years to come..." Let's hope he is right!!!
If I get the chance, I will definitely go back to Seasons on a Saturday morning to see these lads play and would recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to go and take a look.
So now on the afternoon, and I already had an inkling of the formation we were going to play, as Hanks and Williams' absence meant there had to be a big role for our other four central midfielders Russ Penn, Jason Taylor, Sam Deering and Matt Richards.
So it proved, as they were deployed in the diamond, with a back four of Keith Lowe, Billy Jones, Steve Elliott and Troy Brown, and a front two of Jamie Cureton and Byron Harrison.
Having worked out that the best way to tell Penn, Taylor and Richards apart was the colour of their boots (white, orange and green respectively) that midfield quartet was the most impressive part of the first-half display.
For the most part, the passing was good (we can forgive the odd sloppy pass - it is pre-season...), the movement and interchanging of positions was slick and it yielded two goals.
The first was from Deering, who I feel is up there as the most impressive performer in the three pre-season games so far.
He fired home from 20 yards, a low shot into the corner after Cureton laid the ball back to him, and he was always busy, finding pockets of space, and playing well 'between the lines' with Gloucester playing a more rigid 4-4-2.
The second was from Richards, a superb 25-yard strike which topped off an excellent energetic performance. He was up and down constantly, his passing and movement was very good, and on this evidence he looks like an excellent signing.
They almost overshadowed the performances of Taylor and Penn, but those two also more than played their part, both coming close to goals.
Defensively, Troy Brown and Elliott continue to bed in well as a partnership. Brown, like Michael Hector, looks comfortable on the ball, decent in the air and happy to play out from the back.
With the diamond being deployed, it meant that Jones and Lowe had to provide the width from full-back, and they were able to do that to good effect.
Up front, Cureton was again lively and missed one good first-half chance and his movement was good, as was his work-rate. More evidence that he will score goals if we get the ball to him in the right areas.
His partner, Harrison did a lot of work in the channels and dropping deep, but, unfortunately, did not look a big enough threat where it mattered - in the box.
There was one incident in the second half where Cureton rounded the goalkeeper and put the ball across the box, but instead of busting a gut to get into the box he was still 20 yards away.
On the hour, Mark Yates made seven changes, and the team for the rest of the game was a 4-4-2 line-up of Connor Roberts; Sido Jombati, Danny O'Donnell, Keith Lowe, Craig Braham-Barrett; Jermaine McGlashan, Jason Taylor, Sam Deering, Zack Kotwica; Ashley Vincent, Byron Harrison.
It gave us a first look at CBB ( as he is from now on!!) who looked solid enough but will have more time to bed in over the remaining three friendly games, and heralded the return of Vincent, who played through the middle, could have had a goal and has clearly lost none of his pace.
But most of all it gave another chance to Kotwica, a 17-year-old second-year scholar, who, it has emerged, has been handed squad number 19 and will be part of the first team for the forseeable future.
He had three decent chances, all of which were saved by James Bittner, and he linked well with Vincent especially, and also got some protection from Taylor, who took unnecessary exception to one tackle on the youngster.
After the game, Yates praised his display but was equally keen for people not to get carried away. I would expect him to head out on loan so far, but if he is being fast-tracked into the squad, he has a chance, so now it is all down to Zack.
It is clear that we have good competition and good flexibility in the squad. The only player who did not play a part was Terry Gornell, who was on the bench but not risked due to a slight knee injury, picked up in Wales on the white-water rafting, but he should play on Tuesday.
Mark said that there is one player he is hoping to bring in, another loanee, but seemed to suggest it would not be a forward, as Vincent can play down the middle, left or right hand side.
CBB's arrival gives us left-back cover, we are well stocked out wide and in central midfield, but if there are concerns I think we need one more forward and a centre-half.
O'Donnell is not the answer as cover, and I know we could put Keith Lowe there and he would not let us down, but I feel we need another player there as it will be a big ask for Steve Elliott to do another 46 games.
But it seems the last jigsaw piece is one or the other - and a defender is my guess.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

No to Ashley... yes to Ashley!

BARELY a matter of days after one Ashley turned his car round on the M6 and screwed his nose up at Cheltenham Town, it seems that another will be completing the journey.
Mr Grimes preferred Bury, but Mr Vincent (if the talk is to be believed) will make it to Ikea at Wednesbury and beyond, and come back to Whaddon.
He will be coming from Port Vale, basically a straight swap for Kaid Mohamed - and there are great similarities between the two.
Pace, unpredictability, frustration, goals. Both are equally likely to do something to turn a game, and both will frustrate and divide opinion in the seats and on the terraces.
The latter will certainly be the case as the Nest forum reaction and the Twitter views of the possibility of his return seem polarised - straight down the middle, either people seeing it as great news or a disaster waiting to happen.
My view? I am 50-50. I feel Ashley will be slightly less frustrating than Mo, but I see Mo as a greater goal threat, and more dangerous in the air.
I don't necessarily see Ashley's work-rate being any better than Mo's - but I would think his experience at a higher level will have helped his decision-making
Their records are similar - last season Vincent scored seven goals and set up five in the league for Vale. Mo scored four and set up five for us - and added two more in the Cup.
Both operate down the left, but are predominately right-footed, but the Ashley Vincent which comes back will be different to the one who left for Colchester back in 2009.
He had arrived from Wolves as a 19-year-old, where John Ward and Keith Downing had helped nurture him in the reserve and youth teams at Molineux.
It was a rollercoaster spell, including some superb goals, play-off final success, a cruciate knee injury, a broken wrist and being thrown back on to the pitch at MK Dons by Martin Allen.
He left us for Colchester, where the current Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert gave him a three-year contract - then left after one game for Norwich. That one game? a 7-1 win. At Norwich.
He was part of the 'Cheltenham enclave' in Essex with Ward, Steven Gillespie, Kayode Odejayi and Brian Wilson, and scored 10 times in 71 League games for the Us - with knee injuries again haunting him along the way.
Next stop was Vale for one season, and now all the indications are that he is coming full circle, back to Whaddon to fill our left-wing berth... or is he the fourth striker?
When he was here before, there always seemed to be a dispute over his best position.
He always wanted to play as a central striker - (see this link from 2008) - yet has played most of his career out wide.
So if the deal is completed, will he be the man to replace Mo, or is he the man to challenge Jamie Cureton, Terry Gornell and Byron Harrison through the middle?
Maybe Ashley's return will cover both - ie he will be the left-winger we are after and the fourth striker, diminishing further the chances of Joe Anyinsah and George Bowerman's trials being a success.
That would save money - and, having seen the chairman stressing his keenness to resolve the Marlon Pack saga, as we are still paying him and have already (I suspect) spent a lot of the compensation money we haven't even received yet, reading between the lines I would say the pot is very nearly empty.
As for Pack, common consensus is that Crawley, Bristol City and Peterborough are the three main suitors, with somewhere between £75,000 and £100,000 the much-needed bounty on the table. Apparently the hold-up with one of those clubs is at their end. Get on with it please.
My feeling is that this deal will be it for permanent signings, and anything else will be loans.
Welcome back Ashley!

Monday, 15 July 2013

More small steps

After Tuesday's goalfest at Evesham, a repeat was never on the cards at Cirencester - especially when we saw the mercury hitting 30 degrees.
It was hard enough to sit and watch in that heat, let alone run about and try to impress the manager and both sides deserved credit for their efforts.
Cirencester were more of a stern test than Evesham, as was shown by the result - but, looking on the ruthless side, we did miss a few chances.
We started in a 4-4-2 line-up of Roberts; Jombati, O'Donnell, Elliott, Jones; McGlashan, Rees, Taylor, Deering; Harrison, Cureton.
The main focus was on the triallists Danny O'Donnell and Josh Rees, although Mark Yates did admit later that O'Donnell was only playing as Troy Brown was a late arrival.
Brown later admitted that he got the time of the team meeting wrong, and had earlier burnt himself with his iron, so we move on and it gave O'Donnell more chance to impress.
He looks a solid enough player, was okay in the air, stepped out a few times to make interceptions and looks comfortable enough on the ball - but at the age of 27 and with Elliott, Brown and Keith Lowe all able to play at centre-half, he is going to Wales but I can't see him having a long-term future with us.
This is backed up by reading between the lines in some of Yatesy's comments - we are helping him get fit and he is helping us out ... to me, that doesn't sound like he is in line for a deal.
Rees was impressive on Tuesday - he looks a good athlete and comfortable on the ball, and he also seems to have a decent attitude.
Saturday's 72 minutes enhanced that view. He wasn't able to get forward as much as he did on Tuesday, but again he looked good on the ball, won a few tackles, always wanted the ball and was not fazed if he gave the ball away.
Of the triallists, Rees looks the most likely to get a contract. The fact that he has been here since the start of pre-season is an indicator of how much he is rated by the management.
I would be happy if Rees was given a deal - however, to play devil's advocate, what message would that send out to Joe Hanks?
Hanks is a year younger than Rees, and we have invested a lot of time into Joe, and obviously see enough in him to have given him a professional contract.
Rees, as we know, has been schooled at Arsenal, so is he a better bet than Joe? Would Rees being here hinder his progress, so would we be better to give our own product a chance...? An interesting conundrum for Yates.
All the goals at Cirencester came in that first half. As with Evesham, Jamie Cureton headed in the first after 11 minutes, from a Jermaine McGlashan cross.
The only difference between the goals was that Cureton was bit further out and had a bit more work to do with the header, glancing it wide of the goalkeeper.
Cirencester levelled after that rare occurence - a Steve Elliott mistake - let Joe Shephard in for a well-taken equaliser which gave Connor Roberts no chance.
But within a minute, Sam Deering had put us back in front, after a nice build-up involving Sido, Byron Harrison and Cureton.
Deering has been impressive so far in pre-season, and he and Cureton were linking well together, with Sam playing a different role on the left-hand side.
At half-time, the over 30s, Cureton, Jones and Elliott went off, along with Jason Taylor, to be replaced by Joe Anyinsah, Keith Lowe, Troy Brown and Russ Penn.
Anyinsah tried hard, but missed a good chance and didn't do enough to enhance his contract hopes - however he will also be going to Wales, although I would be surprised if he is taken on.
That was shown even more when we got our first look at Terry Gornell, our most recent recruit.
His first touch, a superb turn and pass, set up a good chance for Anyinsah, which he failed to take, and the former Shrewsbury and Rochdale man looks a decent acquisition - as we will get fitter and stronger.
I didn't realise he was only 23 - he seems to have been around a lot longer than that, and he is taller than I had thought previously as well, so adding him to Cureton and Harrison looks a good move.
It also increases the pressure on Harrison, who will need to step up now. After he arrived, he put in some decent performances off the bench (Burton, Port Vale especially) and there is no shortage of effort from him, but Cureton, Gornell and Mr AN Other if he arrives will mean for real competition.
Gornell came on after an hour, along with the youngsters Hanks, Zack Kotwica and Ed Williams.
Hanks played at right-back, replacing Jombati, while Kotwica and Williams came on for McGlashan and Deering, with all three once again not looking out of place at all, while Bobbie Dale came on for Rees in the final change.
The second-half was fragmented with those substitutions, but overall it was another decent workout despite the heat, with the plusses being another Cureton goal, decent displays from Rees and Deering and signs of some good link-ups around the squad.
Wales this week is a key time for the squad to bond and for Yatesy to get that team bonding and unity nailed down, and also to carry on moulding the squad together.
On what we have seen so far of his four new boys, the signs are promising (Matt Richards was injured on Saturday), and of  the triallists I would only seriously be looking at Rees, although George Bowerman is unlucky to have picked up an injury at the wrong time.
He won't be in Wales but will be staying on the radar, and Yates, intriguingly, said is three players short, and waiting on one specific player to make his mind up, then he will know what direction he is taking.
I did ask him if Luke Rooney remains on the wanted list, to which the answer was yes, and we will see how the managerial change at Swindon affects that over the next few weeks I guess... .
Whether I am putting 2 and 2 together and getting five in thinking Rooney is the player Yates is waiting on, I am not sure, but I asked the question in the hope of nailing that avenue down.
Rooney is reportedly on a very good whack at Swindon, and I would suspect that it is that pay packet which may be holding things up.
I think we are looking at a left winger (be that Mr Rooney or someone else), another forward (I would expect a target-man type, as we seem to be lacking that) and maybe a defender as cover, which could be a young loanee, plus maybe Josh Rees - I suspect then Yatesy will think we are ready.
Mark Wright, yet another Shrewsbury ex-player, is the latest name in the left-winger frame, and he would certainly fit the bill.
He is older than I thought he was, at 31, but scored against us when Shrews won 1-0 at Whaddon Road.
We seem to specialise in signing players who score, or do well, against us, so he may yet be wending that well-trod path from Shropshire very soon.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Seventh heaven

If that well-known brand of lager did pre-season friendly openers, then I think this stroll in the sun might well have been up there to feature if they need material for a forthcoming advert.
A goal each for two new signings and a triallist, positive performances all over the pitch and, to add the gloss, a tantalising glimpse into the future thrown in for good measure.
Mark Yates was, therefore, justified in being a happy man after the game - but stressed that the squad on show is by no means the finished article.
Offers are out for 'a couple' of players; he is after a couple of loans and the four triallists on show will have more chance to impress depending on how far the budget will stretch - so this was by no means the finished article.
But for a first 90 minutes, it was impressive enough. Evesham have only had three training sessions while our lads have been back now for 12 days of hard work, and came into the game after another tough afternoon work-out.
However, just as we didn't get carried away in a negative way when we drew 1-1 at Evesham last season, so we mustn't go wildly the other way this time around - but it was heartening to see us do a good, professional job.
The first-half side was a 4-4-2 of S Brown; Lowe, T Brown, Elliott, Jones; McGlashan, Rees, Deering, Williams; Cureton, Anyinsah.
Cureton was especially impressive. He looked hungry and fit, and it was easy to forget the guy is pushing 38 years old. He looked sharp and it was good to see him get on the end of Jermaine McGlashan's cross to nod in the 11th minute opener.
I must say here that - as a critic of McGlashan's crossing, that, and the ball in for the second goal, were excellent deliveries and just the sort of service we will need this season. More of the same please J!
The second goal was turned in by our former triallist Jared Wilson, although there was a claim (spurious in my view) that it went in off Ed Williams. I was right by the far post, and it was definitely an own goal.
Williams was lively on the left, and linked up well with Sam Deering and Josh Rees, who both looked good.
Rees was bigger than I imagined him to be, looks a good athlete with a decent engine, getting up and down the pitch well, and looking comfortable on the ball.
He made some good breaks into the box, one of which saw him have a shot well saved, and another where he went round the keeper and fired a ball across goal which Joe Anyinsah just failed to put away.
That aside, Anyinsah looked a handful. He put himself about, ran the channels well and linked well with Cureton, and, like Rees, definitely did enough to warrant more of a chance.
As we were attacking for the vast majority of the half, it is difficult to make any early judgments on the new boys in the back four, Troy Brown and Matt Richards.
Brown got himself a goal, a powerful header after Deering's goal was headed back across from the far post by Steve Elliott. Suggestions maybe already that once again we will be a handful from set-pieces this coming season.
At the other end, Scott Brown only had one save to make, and it was decent one in the 39th minute.
Opposition in future weeks will be tougher, but Richards will be more than adequate cover at left-back - but Yates after the game did stress that he was not bought in to play there - but would be able to if needed.
So three goals up at half-time, and only Anyinsah, Deering and Rees started the second half.
The line up was: Roberts; Jombati, Taylor, O'Donnell, Jones; Anyinsah, Rees, Hanks, Deering; Harrison, Bowerman.
George Bowerman, the triallist from Walsall, could not have made a better start. Virtually his first touch saw his shot deflect in to make it 4-0 after good work from Deering, and although he tweaked his thigh and went off, leaving us with 10 by the end of the game, he was another to enhance his claims.
Anyinsah, Rees and Deering gave way around the hour mark to Zack Kotwica, Russ Penn and Bobbie Dale, and soon after we were five up when Byron Harrison was fouled and got up to convert the penalty.
After that, it was all about the future, and our youngsters in Kotwica, Dale and Hanks, all of whom impressed.
Dale scored twice, the first taking a deflection but he can have it, and the second right on the whistle after a great burst down the left from his fellow second-year scholar Kotwica, and those two would have been the names on the lips of many fans as they made their way home.
At the other end, I cannot recall our back four and Connor Roberts behind them having anything to do bar one shot which flew wildly over the bar, so I can't really tell much about Danny O'Donnell's long-term prospects, but he should get another game at Cirencester.
All in all, it was a good base to work from. The youngsters and triallists have all given the manager food for thought as he puts the finishing touches to the squad, while the new recruits are all shaping up nicely, it seems.
Yates admitted afterwards he is a couple of permanent signings short of where he wants to be. He wants at least one more forward, a left winger to give us balance, and I suspect a central midfielder and another defender, and hinted again at 'a couple' of loans. That's all dependent on how much money he has left in his pot.
So the recruitment is far from over and the squad will evolve over the coming three or four weeks, so by August 3 things may look very different. Interesting times ahead.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A week to go...

This time next week, we will have played our first pre-season friendly of the season, at Evesham.
It will be our first look at how the squad is shaping up and will give us a little idea of where we are, but as we know by now (or should do at least) results in these warm-up games count for nothing - it's all about systems, fitness and giving trialists a chance to impress.
It has been a quiet summer. Two arrivals, Jamie Cureton and Troy Brown, with Marlon Pack, Darryl Duffy, Darren Carter, Kaid Mohamed and the loanees having left - so we are just looking a bit thin on the ground.
There have been 14 players at training including the new pros Joe Hanks and Ed Williams, and in addition scholars Bobbie Dale and Zack Kotwica have also been involved with the first team sessions.
The manager has admitted a couple of targets have been missed out on. Ashley Grimes and Marvin Morgan are the names where the wise money is, as Grimes apparently went back on his word to join Bury and Morgan decided on Plymouth.
The numbers may be swelled as there is talk tonight that reserve keeper Connor Roberts is, after all, going to sign his contract, listening to Scott Brown's sound advice in the Echo piece the other day.
There is no need to panic.
It's the same every season - we see clubs signing players hand over fist, and this year it's been Bury and Portsmouth... but remember both of those clubs virtually ended last season by releasing all their players so had a very low base to work from.
Some fans see this and worry. Already I have seen tweets and Nest forum comments that we will be left with 'the dregs' and 'sloppy seconds'. Ridiculous words - there are plenty of good players left out there.
Remember Tony Naylor - he came in September and remember how that one turned out. More recently, Luke Summerfield was very much an after thought, and that late arrival nearly brought about the same result.
Assuming the talk is true that Connor will be staying, it saves the need for a second goalkeeper.
Defensively, we look okay with Lowe, Jombati, Elliott, Jones and new boy Brown - maybe in an ideal world   it would be nice to have a centre-back who could cover left back as well, but that is down the priority list.
Midfield sees us with Penn, McGlashan, Taylor, Deering and the youngsters Hanks and Williams, so here is where the surgery is still required.
Shorn of Pack, Carter and Mohamed, we need some creativity, and a bit of pace as well. I'd like to see two central midfielders and a left-sided player added in the next few weeks.
So the front of the team - where we only have Cureton and Harrison, so how many more forwards will Yates be after, and what sort of players will he be looking for?
If Grimes and Morgan were the two he missed, that should give us a clue - one nippy finisher and one with some power.
I have another theory over the proposed Grimes signing - I wonder whether he was wanted as Mo's replacement on the left-hand side as he played on the left of a front three for Rochdale when they hammered us last December at Spotland.
So therefore I wonder if Yates had Grimes earmarked for a similar role here on the left of a front three, maybe with McGlashan on the right and either Cureton or Harrison in the centre - in other words going back to the system which worked so well two seasons ago.
Also, in the search for strikers, I wonder if he would learn from last season when he had four strikers, but for long periods two or three of them were inactive as we were playing only one up front.
If Yates wants to go for that system again, will he go for only three strikers in the squad - in other words only bring in one more and concentrate more on other areas of the team?
So many questions, and a few comments in an interview given to the official site - the first real words we have heard from him since he came back from his pro-licence coursework in Turkey - gave a few clues.
"Hopefully we'll have a couple in this week and a few more in the coming weeks," he said.
"There will be two or three coming in on loan, young hungry players who play in the under 21 league"
So there you are. No need to panic. It's all under control, and it seems that the summer recruitment has only just began, with maybe as many as six or seven players still to come before the date that really matters, August 3, when Burton come to town.
Already, however, the predictions have started and it is a measure of the respect that we seem to have garnered around the division over the past two seasons that many of the soothsayers I have seen are pitching us in their top seven, and many in their top three.
That is a measure of the standing we have built up around the division under Yates' management, and shows the expectation of us as a squad around the league, and also within our own fanbase.
Yet there are many amongst our fans who doubt these credentials and the ability of the manager to take the team to that next level after the disappointments of the past two seasons where we have got into good positions only to fail to clear that final hurdle, whether it be for automatic promotion or the play-offs.
A push for the play-offs is the very least that many fans will expect this season. Others have their sights set higher - it's top three or bust for them.
As Yates said in today's interview, we have a good nucleus in place - now he needs to put the finishing touches to it and find the right system to make it all knit together.
Over to you gaffer...