Town new boys will make their mark, says chief scout McClelland

Chief scout Gareth McClelland believes FC Halifax Town’s new boys will make the grade at The Shay.

Town have confirmed the signings of Dan Maguire, Josh Macdonald, Elliott Whitehouse and Sam Walker so far, with more new faces expected to follow.

Walker turned down a better deal at Salford, who are part-owned by former Manchester United stars Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt, to join The Shaymen.

McClelland worked with the former Curzon Ashton captain at Woodley Sports and is confident he, along with his fellow new recruits, will prove a hit at Halifax.

“I’ve known Sam Walker for a long time,” he said.

“He was with myself, Liam Hogan and Antoni Sarcevic at Woodley and they were the three best players.

“He’s been a key player for Curzon over the last few years and he’s certainly going to do well for us.

“They’re a mixture of experienced players along with lower league players who have done well in recent seasons

“They’re all hungry and they’ve got a good team ethos, which is important.

“I’m expecting them all to do well but they key thing is how quickly they gel.”

McClelland is also excited about the potential of striker Maguire, who joined Town from Blyth Spartans.

“We’ve watched Dan Maguire for a long time,” he said.

“Myself and Neil watched him a number of times and he’s got a good work-rate and he scores goals.

“We’ve got to be patient with Dan, especially in his first season.

“Players always tend to develop more in their second season at their new clubs.

“His work-rate his very similar to Jamie Vardy and his appetite for the game is great to watch.

“His movement along the line is fantastic and he’s a very capable finisher.

“We need to think about what formation to use to get the best out of him, but that’s the case for all the players we’ve brought to the club.”

McClelland also explained how the signing of Macdonald came about.

“We had a trial day pretty quickly after the end of the season as Neil wanted to identify the best players before they were snapped up by other clubs.

“We had more than 30 players attend and we got Josh Macdonald from that.”

Town’s chief scout is also predicting big things for youngster Jake Hibbs, who has enjoyed successful loan spells at Droylsden and Hyde but will be back with Town for pre-season training.

“It’s an important season for Jake,” said McClelland.

“He had a good loan spell at Hyde, who were extremely impressed with him.

“People need to be patient with him, he’s only 19 and he’s still got a lot of developing to do, especially on the physical side of his game.

“Often that doesn’t materialise until players are 20 or 21.

“But in the games I’ve watched him in and in the feedback we’ve had the consensus is that he will be a league player eventually.

“But I don’t want to put too much pressure on him and I know Neil will be patient.

“He’s done the right thing in letting him go out on loan whereas other managers might have had him warming the bench.”

One player that got away from The Shaymen was striker Che Adams, who joined Sheffield United from Ilkeston Town in November, despite strong interest from Halifax.

“I watched him for 30 minutes and we tried to sign him but he ended up going to Sheffield United,” recalled McClelland.

“I remember it vividly. Ilkeston were playing Stourbridge.

“He came on with half-an-hour to go and I phoned Neil and said “we need this boy”.

“We tried to get him the next day but we couldn’t sign him as Sheffield United came in and we couldn’t compete with them.

“But I believe it would have been better for him to have joined us and made a name for himself first.

“He is making a name for himself at Sheffield United but only coming off the bench here and there.”

Another striker who has emerged from the non-league game, Jamie Vardy, also caught McClelland’s eye on first sight.

“Vardy played against me in pre-season once when I was Mossley manager and he scored three goals,” McClelland added.

“My centre-back Keil O’Brien was disappointed with his performance but it’s great to see how he’s developed as a player and is going into his second season as a pro at Bury.

“Vardy was the stand-out player though. He had a lot of attributes, obviously the biggest being his pace, but also his work-rate.”