Peaks happy to keep his Diamonds together

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks has kept the majority of his squad togetherAFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks has kept the majority of his squad together
AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks has kept the majority of his squad together
Andy Peaks has backed the younger members of his AFC Rushden & Diamonds squad to shine when the new Southern League Premier Central campaign gets under way.

It’s been a busy few days at Hayden Road as Diamonds released their retained list at the end of last week before confirming their first summer signing with midfielder Fernando Bell-Toxtle returning to the club.

The retained list made for pleasant reading with no fewer than 18 members of last season’s squad committing themselves to another campaign with Diamonds.

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Experienced players including Liam Dolman, Tom Lorraine and Jack Ashton are all staying along with the promising crop of youngsters who performed well during the last campaign, which was cut short due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Diamonds were still in the hunt for a play-off place at the time.

And, with Bell-Toxtle also on board, Peaks firmly believes those younger players will only benefit from their experiences of last season.

“I had spoken to Fernando a few times so it was always on the cards,” the Diamonds boss said.

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“I am delighted we have got it done, he will definitely add something. I liked him when he was here before and he had just broken into the team when he went off to university.

“And we have managed to get most of last season’s squad to commit for the next one, which is good. Overall, I am very happy.

“We have got some young players who will definitely be better for a second season. The likes of Jesse Akubuine, Matty Slinn, Patrick Casey and Ben Acquaye will get better and better.

“But I think this extended period we have had off will do a few of the older boys some good because there were some who were not playing fully fit.

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“We aren’t going to have loads of new faces. The bond is already there and the boys know each other.

“They know what we are trying to do and how we want to play so I feel we have got a good start.”

It remains unclear when the new Southern League season will actually start with the non-League campaign unlikely to get going again until fans are allowed back into grounds.

For Peaks, football remains on the backburner and he added: “It’s still very uncertain times and it’s difficult to plan anything until we have a firm date of when the season will start.

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“From a football perspective it is frustrating but I think football has had a welcome reality check. We think it’s life and death but there are more important things.

“Football is something we all enjoy, it’s a hobby but there are people who have lost things both in their work and personal lives.

“Of course, we want to get back and we will keep our fingers crossed that it’s sooner rather than later.”

Diamonds, meanwhile, are keen to grow their membership base.

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The fans-owned club are gearing up for their third season at Step 3 and is also a community hub for more than 500 boys and girls.

New season memberships for 2020-21 launched this week and cost £25 for adults/concessions and £5 for junior/under-16s.

Members and part owners receive a range of benefits including club shop discount, discounted coach travel to away games and, for junior members, free entry to all home games.

For more details on how to become a member visit the website

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