IT’S BEEN another busy week in terms of signings, and I’m more than happy to have brought in Ian Craney, on a three-year deal, and Liam Dickinson, for an initial month’s loan.
Ian is someone I have kept under close tabs since I was manager at Burnley and he was playing for Accrington Stanley.
He’s a forward-going player with good ball retention and, like his fellow midfielders Michael Flynn and Gary Roberts, he has an eye for goal.
So, of course, does Liam, as his 21 for Stockport County last season shows.
That’s why a lot of clubs were interested in him, and Derby’s offer of, I believe, £750,000, was too good for Stockport to refuse.
I worked with Paul Jewell at Derby County last season, so he’s a man I know well, and as soon as he signed Liam in the summer, I inquired about the possibility of him coming up here on loan, because I knew he was seen as a long-term prospect rather than a player who could go straight into a side pushing for promotion back to the Premier League.
It’s a big step from League II to the Championship, and it’s also a step up to League I, but from what I’ve seen of Liam, he’s capable of making it.
Both Paul and myself believe Liam will benefit from a spell here and that the experience, and hopefully confidence, he will gain from it will help him stake a claim when he returns to Derby.
His presence will also allow me to look after Andy Booth a little bit, and what a great guy for Liam to be able to learn from during his time at the club.
Paul also knows that I’ll look after Liam as well, and being able to coach a threequarters of a million pound footballer is an great prospect.
I’ve made 10 signings now, and while it’s still possible that some more might come in while some leave before the transfer window closes, I’m getting closer to where I want to be in terms of the size of the squad.
As I keep saying, competition for places is absolutely crucial, and I also want cover in all areas to counter complacency (although that’s not something I intend to allow), loss of form, injuries and suspensions.
Of course all players have an ambition to be in the first team, which is only to be expected and encouraged.
That’s what they train all week for, and when the game comes around, it’s showtime.
Keeping every player in the squad happy isn’t easy, but it’s part of my job to do that and select what I consider to be the best XI.