Great anticipation thanks to Aspin’s complete overhaul

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Town boss Neil Aspin has chosen to shuffle his pack this summer and just may have unearthed some diamonds in the process.

There’s a sense of revolution rather than evolution at The Shay, with nine new faces replacing 11 old ones.

Aspin is expected to have one more ace up his sleeve before the start of the season too, in the shape of a creative midfielder.

The Shay chief admitted the squad needed an overhaul at the end of last season, and he’s certainly come up trumps.

One of the guiding principles of the club’s recruitment policy is signing players with something to prove; a characteristic shared by the majority of the club’s new boys.

All but one have been signed from clubs either at National League level or below, with most either falling into the young and hungry description Aspin outlined he wanted or aiming to prove their old clubs wrong after being released.

Striker Dan Maguire and winger Josh Macdonald are arguably the wild cards of the new group having been plucked from the relative obscurity of Blyth Spartans and Marske United respectively.

Maguire’s credentials could hardly be more emphatic, with ‘Nipper’ - his nickname at Blyth in honour of his voracious work-rate - scoring 31 goals in 56 games for Spartans in the latest Evo-Stik Northern Premier season.

He has been their supporters’ club player of the season for the last three years, the club’s top scorer for the last two and has played for England C.

Former Middlesbrough youngster Macdonald has been with Northern League Division One Champions Marske for the last two years, scoring 22 goals.

Curzon Ashton captain Sam Walker has also arrived from the Northern Premier League after helping them to successive promotions.

The 28-year-old scored 41 goals in just over 200 hundred games and turned down an offer from the class of 92’s Salford to join Halifax.

Midfielder Elliott Whitehouse, 21, and forward Jordan Burrow, 22, also fit into the young and hungry bracket.

Former Sheffield United youth team captain Whitehouse was released by Notts County this summer and could play in a more advanced role than he’s been used to in recent seasons.

The Worksop-born man could prove to be the ace in the pack if he recaptures the form that took him to a youth cup final against Manchester United in 2011.

Burrow, who played at The Shay for England C last season, notched 10 goals in 39 league appearances for Lincoln last term, including five in his first nine, before being released by The Imps.

He has been followed from Sincil Bank by Hamza Bencherif, whose versatility could prove crucial, with Town concentrating on quality rather than quantity in their squad. The 27-year-old scored home and away against Town last season, as well as being sent-off at The Shay.

Matt Brown, who also scored at The Shay for Chester last season, was also released after struggling with injury but is a no-nonsense centre-back and will offer some leadership in the heart of the Town defence having captained Chester.

Following him from Chester is England C’s Kingsley James, who was regarded as The Blues’ most impressive performer over the first half of the previous campaign. Interest was strong in the 23-year-old, so his capture is a coup for The Shaymen, who have replenished their midfield with some exciting signings.

Andy Bishop, at 32, who has bagged more than 150 career league goals, will bring plenty of experience and know-how.

Bishop has previously finished as top-scorer in the National League and will be determined to prove he still has what it takes after falling out of favour at Wrexham.

Only time will tell if the Town boss has played his cards right but the re-shuffle has probably left him with a stronger hand than he finished last season with.