AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks declared himself happy with his first moves of the summer.
With the exceptions of Dan Quigley, Jack Bowen, Kyal McNulty and Shawn Richards, Peaks is set to have the remainder of last season’s squad that reached the Evo-Stik League South play-offs still intact for the new campaign.
And Diamonds have now added four new faces for their return to the Evo-Stik South League East with experienced striker Chris Dillon and fellow attacking players Daryl Smith, Charlie Coulson and Luke Fairlamb all committing for the new season.
“There had been plenty of work going on behind the scenes and my feelings were that we weren’t a million miles away last season so I didn’t really want to go into a big rebuilding job,” Peaks said.
“There are lads who have decided to move on for whatever reason and I respect that but it has given us a chance to get some players in.
“And I think we have a good mix. We have someone like Chris who is more old school and has scored goals wherever he has been. He had a year out from playing last season and now he wants to get back into it.
“We have deliberately targeted the attacking and wide areas because I think we were a bit short there last season and we have young, hungry players like Daryl, Luke and Charlie coming in and I think it is important we get that back in the team.
“The centre-half area is one we are still looking at and we have a couple of lads coming for pre-season so hopefully something will come of that.
“But things are pretty settled and we will be ready to go for training on Tuesday.”
Peaks, meanwhile, is hoping the returns to full fitness for midfielder Ross Oulton and defender Jack Ashton will be like “two new signings” after both missed large chunks of last season with knee injuries.
“Ross should be coming back 100 per cent and Jack has started his running this week, which is great news for us,” the Diamonds boss added.
“Having those two fresh and fit will be like having two new signings.
“But we won’t be rushing Jack, he had a bad injury and we are happy to wait for him because I want as many games as possible out of him.”
Youngsters from Diamonds’ academy, meanwhile, are looking forward to a big weekend at the home of England’s elite footballers.
The club’s under-13, under-14 and under-15 teams will take part in the ESF Finale at St George’s Park in Staffordshire on July 8 and 9 after all three were successful in their respective age groups at the ESF tournament at the Butlin’s resort in Skegness.
The ESF Festival of Football is a series of competitions with the winners going on to compete in the Finale.
First-team boss Peaks will be there as he also coaches the club’s under-14 team.
Newly-appointed head of academy and first-team coach Scott Carlin said: “We had three of our academy teams at the Butlin’s Tournament in Skegness and all three of them won their age groups.
“So we have been invited to play in the final stages at St George’s Park.
“It should be a fantastic experience for the players and the coaches to play at the home of the cream of the crop of English football.
“We don’t really know what we will be up against but we will certainly enjoy it.”
Carlin has taken over as the head of academy after Martin Jenkins stepped down due to work commitments.
“Martin has done a great job in pushing the academy on over the last 18 months and hopefully, with the experience I have got, I can make sure the good work continues,” Carlin added.
“I am still going to be a coach with the first team, which is something I really enjoy, but I am looking forward to the new role.”