Changes aplenty for Irchester as they bid for the top eight

Former Wellingborough Town assistant-manager Colin Cooper has been signed up as a player by Irchester United
Former Wellingborough Town assistant-manager Colin Cooper has been signed up as a player by Irchester United

There have been a few changes in personnel at Irchester United as they prepare to take on Bourne Town at Alfred Street in ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Division One this weekend.

Mitch Blande has left the Romans to sign for local rivals Whitworth, who also now have former Rushden & Diamonds, Norwich City and Coventry City midfielder David Bell in their ranks.

But Irchester boss Steve Sargent has brought in the likes of Jake Reynolds, Matt Hibberd, Adam Langley and Colin Cooper as he prepares for the second half of the season.

Hibberd made an early impact when netting the goal that secured a point against Whitworth on Boxing Day while Reynolds and Cooper have boosted the forward line and Langley is a goalkeeper signed from Burton Park Wanderers.

Sargent admitted he was “disappointed” to see Blande leave the club.

He said: “These things happen in football.

“Mitch wanted to play regularly and I told him: ‘We have a strong squad and there are times when players either have to miss out or play in different positions.’ He wasn’t happy with that and decided to go elsewhere.

“I’m disappointed because Mitch was our captain earlier this season and was an important player for us, but I respect his decision.

“Jake is a strong, young lad and gives us something different.

“Ryan (Lovell) and Sam (Dengel) are quick and tricky, while Jake is stocky, holds the ball up well and is strong in the air.

“I’ve brought him in now so he can have a few months with the lads and get used to how we play so he can be ready for next season.”

Sargent explained why he’s convinced Colin Cooper to come out of retirement.

Cooper started the season as assistant-manager to Jamie Wright at Wellingborough Town and Sargent added: “Colin is here to help us out in emergencies.

“If all goes well we won’t need him, but I would rather have him signed on than have to go desperately looking for someone in March if players get injured.”

Sargent says he hopes his side will go on to clinch a top-eight finish.

He said: “I would be disappointed if we finished in the bottom half after the way we’ve started the season.”

NFA Junior Cup semi-finalists Raunds Town return to league action with a clash against Woodford United at Kiln Park this weekend while fifth-placed Rushden & Higham United take on Bugbrooke at Hayden Road.

Third-placed Stewarts & Lloyds welcome Blackstones to Occupation Road while Thrapston Town also have home advantage against Lutterworth Athletic.

Whitworth face a tough trip to fourth-placed Potton United while bottom side Burton Park Wanderers are also on the road at Oakham United.