Town boss Millington on injuries, his squad and recruitment for next season

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Chris Millington says Town midfielder Kian Spence could be in contention for a return to action next month.

Spence hasn't played for Halifax since the 2-1 defeat at Altrincham on Boxing Day due to an ongoing groin issue, but the 22-year-old is now back running after a lengthy lay-off.

"His running load has been increased so hopefully he'll be striking a ball within the next seven days and who knows, he may be available for selection in the next couple of weeks," Millington told the Courier.

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Captain Tom Clarke and vice-captain Jordan Keane are both now back in full training.

Kian Spence. Photo: Marcus BranstonKian Spence. Photo: Marcus Branston
Kian Spence. Photo: Marcus Branston

"It's been a bit hit and miss for Clarkey in recent weeks because of the weather and we've been on 3G a lot, so that's slowed his training programme down a little bit," Millington said.

"But both are in full training now."

Millington said Liverpool loanee Fidel O'Rourke is recovering very well from his hamstring injury and is expected to be available for next Saturday's FA Trophy semi-final at Altrincham.

Winger Sam Smart, who is on loan with Brackley, is still training with Town.

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"At the moment he's considered a Brackley Town player, clearly he's on loan there but at the moment we feel it's more important Sam's getting regular games," said Millington.

"And as we've touched on, the number of bodies we've got, it maybe would just keep Sam a bit further away from getting selected here, so he'll be staying at Brackley for the rest of the season."

Millington is pleased to have a nearly fully-fit squad to choose from.

"It's great, we've obviously got a challenging schedule between now and the end of the season with the number of games we've got to get played and the importance of them," he said.

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"So we can certainly be demanding of the group in terms of what we expect out of them for work-rate because there's good competition for places."

Millington said conversations are happening with "a couple of players" who are out-of-contract this summer about new deals.

"We've got some we've started to have negotiations with and others that we're looking at putting together offers for," he said.

"So there are conversations going on and hopefully we'll have news on some of those in the next few weeks."

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And Millington believes his squad will provide a good starting point from which to add new signings in the summer.

"We've always had extensive lists of players from a level or two above, going down to a level or two below where we're at, and obviously that includes an extensive list of National League players," he said.

"But the benefit we've got this season over and above last season is the foundation of a really strong, young squad coming together.

"We're a lot clearer on what we're going to need and how we can find those players and bring them into what should be a relatively established group of players.

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"We're well on with that, we've got extensive lists of players that we can go after and we expect it to be a lot smoother process and a lot more successful this coming season because of the players who we know will be staying."

Last summer saw Town lose some key players from their squad and struggle to replace them, but Millington feels the situation will be different this time around.

"We do have a number of lads on two year deals, a number of lads on options, and we've got a healthy group of young players who have now got a significant amount of National League games under their belt to go into next season.

"So we're in a much more stable position than we were this time last year.

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"Now, what we've got to do is maintain the blend of recruitment that had us so successful in the years earlier.

"I think we tipped the balance this season slightly from that three-tier strategy that had worked so well for us, we tipped it slightly in favour of a larger group of more experienced pros and, although we need the experienced pros around it, we've also got to have a healthy number of established National League players who know what it takes to get through a 46-game season.

"So it's just making sure the percentages are right in terms of young hungry players, tier one, established National League players, tier two, and the sprinkling of experienced, good professionals in that third tier.

"I think there'll be bit of focus on making sure that is done more accurately than maybe last season."