Kettering Town boss Cox knows some recruitment is needed

The Poppies have seen five players depart for various reasons over the past couple of weeks
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox. Picture by Peter ShortKettering Town manager Paul Cox. Picture by Peter Short
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox. Picture by Peter Short

Paul Cox knows he has work to do as he ramps up the recruitment process at Kettering Town.

Ahead of last weekend’s superb 3-1 win over Vanarama National League North leaders Brackley Town, the Poppies saw Luke O’Neill depart for Sky Bet League Two side Stevenage while Lamine Sherif was released and Kyle Perry was allowed to join Nuneaton Borough on a dual registration.

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But two more departures, somewhat out of their hands, have seen striker Gerry McDonagh return to parent club FC Halifax Town due to an ankle injury while the Poppies also lost impressive young midfielder Harrison Neal who has now joined National League side Southend United on loan from Sheffield United having spent the first half of the season at Latimer Park.

The Poppies, however, have confirmed that Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Jackson Smith will be staying on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Cox admitted he had already looking closely at potential targets after “freeing some funds up” but, as the 10th-placed Poppies prepare for a trip to eighth-placed Alfreton Town this weekend, the Kettering boss knows things must be stepped up.

“Initially, there were certain players who have moved on because we wanted to free some funds up to bring ‘X, Y and Z’ in,” Cox said.

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“We didn’t really expect Harrison to be moving on but you have to be respectful of the parent clubs. We also couldn’t foresee Gerry McDonagh having a few more problems with the ankle injury he suffered at Telford. It’s one of those things.

“We are on the back of a couple of very good wins and I, as ever, was looking for that consistency going forward.

“We’re going to have to tweak a few things and it’s about solving a few problems now. But that’s what the job is all about.

“I will be working really hard to ensure we recruit well and get players in who will improve us.

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“That’s a tough ask when you lose someone like Harrison who has probably been one of our most consistent players all season.

“But this is what we have got to do. Me and my staff are working hard and hopefully we will get one or two through the door.”

Cox, meanwhile, paid a glowing tribute to Neal after his loan stint at Kettering came to an end.

Southend’s move for him came after they watched the 20-year-old score a fine curling shot to put the seal on Sunday’s victory over Brackley.

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And while Cox admitted he was “gutted” to see Neal depart, he knows it’s all part of the bigger picture.

“He is a super kid,” the Kettering manager added.

“I hope he has that little bit of luck that you need to ensure he goes on and has a fabulous career.

“I don’t think you could wish to meet a better lad. I have worked with a few but he is a standout.

“I had a chat with the lad and I am gutted because we haven’t just lost a good player, we have lost a good person.

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“On the flip side, this is what it’s all about. Clubs like ourselves, when we get these good young players, we know this can happen. We want to see Harrison climb the ladder and this is just the next part of his education.

“I am gutted but it’s all about the process for Harrison. He’s fabulous and I can’t speak highly enough about him.”