Calmness personified, new Forest Green boss Ian Burchnall insists his side will remain patient during the transfer window despite the paucity of striking options at his disposal.
With top scorer Matty Stevens (ACL) sidelined until the new year, Rovers currently have just two recognised strikers in captain Jamille Matt and Josh March.
Ash Loveridge sat down with Ian Burchnall who answered a wide selection of questions ahead of Forest Green’s League One baptism at Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
AL: Director of Football Rich Hughes has been fast out of the traps recruitment-wise during pre-season, but are you concerned about your striking options?
IB: I don’t think we want to be in a rush to get players in just to get players through the door. They’ve got to be the right players and if that takes another week or two, so be it. The market has been a little slower probably than normal, but I think that’s been the case for a lot of clubs. Even even at the top end, some clubs haven’t made any deals and things have gone slowly. But we did a lot of business early with Corey O’Keefe, Kyle McAllister Reece Brown, David Davis, and Armani Little. Sometimes you have to let the market settle and then move. So I’m sure by the end of the window, we’ll get what we need.
AL: Would you consider dipping into the loan market?
IB: Yes, but it would have to be the right player who fits in with the group.
AL: Team spirit was key last season and with a raft of departures, how are the newbies settling in?
IB: They’ve all slotted into the group on a social level, they’ve been great, really good lads. And then, on top of that, they’re showing some really good attributes on the grass.
AL: How have you found working with Richard Hughes so far?
IB: I’ve worked with directors of football or sporting directors in Europe for a long time, so it’s not uncommon to me. We get on really well and Rich knows these leagues better than I do in terms of scouting and recruitment, so to have somebody of his kind of knowledge is perfect for me to be able to lean on.
AL: Josh March has really stepped up to the plate in pre-season with a number of goals. How important will he be without Matty Stevens?
IB: One thing about Josh is that he just works unbelievably hard every day. He’s a great character to have, a really positive guy and knows where the goal is. Again, it’s another step up, which would be a challenge for him. But I think he definitely offers us something. So like every player, there’ll be an opportunity and he has to grab it.
AL: Armani Little has caught the eye in pre-season since his arrival from Torquay, could he play as a striker if needs must?
IB: He is versatile and gives us good options and can play as a number 8 – a box-to-box midfielder type, but he can also play as a 10, that’s quite dynamic, runs off the striker – good finisher. So I think he gives us a little bit of variation in what we want to do. He can probably play as a striker if I needed him to because he’s got that physicality and legs and a finish on him.
AL: Is marquee signing Reece Brown expected to be available to face Bristol Rovers?
IB: We had to wrap him up in cotton wool a little bit. He took a knock on his knee and we just needed to make sure it was right, he got some minutes against Newport and felt good after the game.
AL: League One boasts some really big hitters like Derby, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton, Barnsley, and the list goes on. These teams have graced Europe and the Premier League. Ipswich, who you play in your first home game of the season is a prime example of this, How does little Forest Green rise to the challenge?
IB: We know they’ve got great history, but we’re not afraid of that. Ipswich, for example, I’m 100% sure they will be expecting to gain promotion. And so when they come here, I think there’s a much greater weight of expectation on them than us and we can just hopefully play with a bit of freedom.
AL: Dale Vince is arguably one of the best known and leftfield chairmen outside of the Premier League, how have your dealings been with him?
IB: Dale has been brilliant and really positive. He trusts Rich Hughes, and I guess, he trusts me with the running of the football club from a football perspective. It’s not like he’s ringing me every day to find out what’s going on, but, I’m sure will have a lot more contact once the season starts.