Diamonds complete trio of new signings

AFC Rushden & Diamonds have confirmed their first new signings of the summer.

Thursday, 7th July 2022, 1:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th July 2022, 1:37 pm
Matthew Lars Fossen signs for AFC Rushden & Diamonds under the watchful eye of boss Andy Burgess
Matthew Lars Fossen signs for AFC Rushden & Diamonds under the watchful eye of boss Andy Burgess

Andy Burgess’ summer rebuild at Hayden Road had already started with Patrick Casey, Jesse Akubuine, Connor Furlong and Ryan Hughes committing to the club having been there last season.

Now the first new faces have arrived as the build-up to the new Southern League Premier Central campaign continues.

Matthew Lars Fossen has joined Diamonds from Swedish Division One side FC Linköping City.

The 26-year-old, who can play in defence and midfield, has had spells at Bradford City and Halifax Town in the past.

Diamonds have also signed left-sided centre-back Evangelos-Nikalaos Empochontsif who has joined from Isthmian League Premier Division new boys Canvey Island after the 21-year-old moved to the area to attend Northampton University.

And Burgess has also moved to sign 18-year-old left-back Courtney Lashley, who was released by Northampton Town at the end of last season having come through the academy ranks at Sixfields.

Diamonds are now looking forward to their third friendly of the summer at Stamford on Saturday and boss Burgess insists he has been and is still willing to be patient when it comes to adding new faces.

“I know it probably looks like we are bare bones but we have had really good numbers in training and we are looking at a lot of players,” the Diamonds boss said.

“I don’t want to be knee jerk on any decision I make. I want players who want to be here for the right reasons. It was never a case that I would panic and sign the first players I looked at.

“We need players who fit our profile and the way we want to play and conduct ourselves on and off the pitch.

“We are looking forward to Saturday now and it will be another good test.

“I have worked with Graham and played for him so I know what his squads are all about. They will be organised and hard-working.

“It fits into our schedule well, it’s a good environment to play in.

“I am happy with everything. I have learned loads about the players in the first two games and, so far, pre-season is going to plan.”

Diamonds have, so far, played out a 3-3 draw at Kempton Rovers and a 4-0 home defeat to Milton Keynes Dons in pre-season and Burgess felt both matches “served their purpose”.

“Saturday was a case of blowing the cobwebs away and having a look at people who had come into training,” he added.

“We used that game as a chance to run the rule over one or two and it served its purpose in the sense that we were able to make some decisions on players.

“On Tuesday, the scoreline didn’t look great but they are a League One club and a good League One club.

“I thought our shape without the ball was good, the lads adapted well to the opposition and it was good for fitness and organisation so, again, it served its purpose.

“It was a good occasion, there was a good crowd and MK Dons were fantastic. There wasn’t one moan or complaint from them.

“We will be so much better for that 90 minutes and experience.”