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Ashton: Recruitment Work Already Under Way
Thursday, 16th May 2024 19:02

Town CEO Mark Ashton says he and manager Kieran McKenna have already begun work on recruiting for the Blues’ return to the Premier League.

Ashton says the pair have held meetings regarding strengthening a squad which only just over a year ago was largely playing in League One, for top-flight football. There will also be changes to the club’s scouting staff with head of recruitment Sam Williams departing for a role at Manchester United.

“Already begun,” Ashton told TownTV when asked about the search for players in a lengthy interview looking towards the campaign ahead with the additional three weeks automatic promotion rather than going through the play-offs affords them giving them vital additional time.

“Planning has already begun, Kieran’s in my office again today and we’re talking through how he wants the team to thrive in the division and be competitive in the division, the type of players he wants. We’ve been working through that.

“The recruitment team are now on that, there’ll be additions to the recruitment team, there’ll be some changes in that.

“But he’s very clear on what he wants and I think the processes will very much stay the same. It’s the type of player, the finances of that player that will differ and I think for me, the challenge comes with the more you’re spending on players, the bigger the finances, the bigger the contracts, the less you can get wrong.

“But we’re very clear on what we’re doing and what we’re looking for and Kieran’s in today and we’re well and truly under way.”

Town under Ashton and McKenna have notably concentrated on the domestic market when signing players up to now, but the CEO says that bringing in overseas recruits have always been in the club’s thoughts.

“I’d say it always has but the right player has got to pop up and fit the technical and tactical and financial specification and has got to be the personal fit that Kieran wants,” he added.

“We wouldn’t shy away from that but we won’t just take an overseas player for the sake of taking an overseas player.

“We’ve seen it already, the rumour mill is rife. I would just say to Town fans again, trust us, don’t believe what you hearing on social media. When it’s right, it will come from the football club and we will tell you what’s going on.”

He added: “We’re a newly promoted football club, we’re a strong financially positioned club and we will be used by agents and other stakeholders in the game to drive the prices of other players, to drive engagement of other players.”

In terms of holding onto current members of the squad, Ashton says being in the Premier League will help, but in any case the Blues were far from the soft touch he felt they were prior to the takeover.

“I think clubs probably look at us, whatever division they’re in, as a difficult club to take players from now,” he reflected.

“It felt like a selling club. We’re not a selling club now and that’s where the investment and the shareholders and the backing of that board and backing of that group is key because if someone tries to take a player from this football club, 1) it’s not going to be easy, 2) it’s going to be a very big number and 3) right now, I’m not sure any player wants to leave this football club.”

Regarding off-field recruitment, Ashton says the club probably won’t grow too much with most departments already at the strength required.

“The club will grow this summer but not hugely. It’s been an interesting debate. We set our standards in League One. We said we would build Premier League standards, Premier League infrastructure in League One and the Championship that we believed could carry us through to the Premier League.

“When you look at staffing off the pitch, there’ll be one or two but there won’t be 10 or 20 because we’re already there.

“There will be a growth in the media department. Why? Because it’s probably the one area that’s going to be stretched with the media demands.

“Kieran might tweak or turn the backroom staff, he may add one or two to it, but it’s no more than one or two.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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BrockleyBlue78 added 19:10 - May 16
Beautiful. Keep up the excellent work Mark.

Yppswyche added 19:36 - May 16
Brockley reprazent!

bluesince76 added 19:47 - May 16
Mark Ashton really is doing a fantastic job at the club whats not to like.

Northstandveteran added 20:52 - May 16
Norwich currently 3-0 down.

Could we not buy their best players and stick them in the under 21's?

For a laugh.

Gforce added 20:55 - May 16
Great to hear all the forward planning going on.
Hopefully also put to bed,the silly rumours regarding Mckenna.

Gforce added 20:57 - May 16
Poor old Chris Sutton is not looking too happy in the studio!! Ha Ha Ha.

Cj78 added 20:58 - May 16
They must have a list of players we need to get like defenders. Do you think we need a new goalkeeper or can walton step up for this new season. Hand on hart need strong defence and maybe two new forwards

IpswichT62OldBoy added 21:11 - May 16
Seeing what is happening in the play-offs seems to crystalise the achievement of automatic promotion.

BuckieBlue added 21:31 - May 16
As mentioned automatic gives more time for recruitment (and Kieran and Mike might have time for a break) but even with the lesser time available back in 2000, we didn't do too badly!

mickcosh added 21:42 - May 16
Well done and keep up the good work. Come on the blues

bobble added 00:04 - May 17
we need an alan hunter and a johnny wark to start with

ArnieM added 13:05 - May 17
We need a PL level spine to the team now…. No room for sentiment unfortunately. I suspect a fair few of the current first team regulars will now become more and more second string. It has to be that way, but the transition will be done gradually and with compassion/ respect for those players that have got us to this level but in truth are probably not just up to that level on a regular basis . It’s what it is ….

Cervantes added 13:36 - May 17
There will definitely be some departures from the League 1 squad. At the start of the season I was convinced that Kayden J should go. I'm kinda in two minds now as he has shown improvement this year and his final ball and finishing is markedly improved. I have a real fondness for Freddie Ladapo but fear his day's are numbered. A big question is whether or not we can get the loanees back. I also think that Hladky is still a little too slow on the ball, but again I think he's had a fantastic season amd better with the ball than Walton, in my opinion I assume that Slicker is earmarked for some time in the future so I'll watch the goalkeeping situation with interest. In summary, four good signings and two or three good loanees could see us lower middle of the table. It's a massive jump in class to the Premier league but I trust in the process. I'm not expecting a fifth place finish like last time but I can see us consolidating our Premier league status. COYB

Linkboy13 added 19:20 - May 17
Players are not only technically better in the Premier league they are also better athletes and if we are going to continue with our present tactics of building from the back we are going to need better quality in that area. Of course McKenna might think this is a bit of a risk and alter the tactics slightly. But my guess is he will bring in two if not three defenders. I think Sam Morsy has definitely got the ability to play in the Premier league but needs another midfield player with athleticism beside him. Hirst is a player that is rapidly improving but the demands of the Premier league are high so a striker with proven quality and physicality is needed. It would be great if we could keep Hutchinson for another season as he is improving at a fast pace. Tuanzebe has done an excellent job in the championship but im not convinced of his fitness. Sarmiento has been excellent as an impact player but Premier league might be a bit too much for him physically.

NorwegianTractor added 22:35 - May 17
Totally agree we need some improvements for PL, even though the current team have performed really well in the Championship. When meeting the best teams (Leeds and Leicester) this year we really struggled against their quality players, and I think we have given away the ball in dangerous situations far too often for comfort.

As a norwegian I have a few fellow countrymen on my wishlist that I think could improve the team (even as the norwegian national team haven't qualified for any World or Euro tournament in a long time). The most obvious players like Haaland and Ødegaard are obviously not within our budgets, but there are a few other players I think could be within our reach and that I think could be good for us - some up and coming and some proven. Would be cool if we happened to get one or two from my list. :)

Sander Berge (midfield) was player of the year for Burnley who is going down.
Jørgen Strand Larsen is a strong and tall forward scoring goals for Celta Vigo in Spain.
If we can't get Omari back there are options with two similar youngsters in Oscar Bobb (Man City) and Antonio Nusa (Club Brugge) who both have improved immensely the last year.
Defence I have a personal fav in Kristoffer Ajer with Brentford, but he's been injured a lot and also playing a lot of right back which is not his strongest.
Another young defender who i like is Leo Hjelde (Sunderland) who can play left back as well as central.
Throwing a few young midfielders into the mix as well, both played with my son growing up, they both have U21 caps and currently in Holland, Johan Hove (Groningen) and Sivert Mannsverk (Ajax).

Any others with a wishlist? :)

MickMillsTash added 23:19 - May 17
Norwegian youngsters seem to be amazing - with the Chess Dude and that ingerbritzen runner guy (I guess he is possibly a drug cheat ) but I suppose its not proven yet.
Norway might just be a great scouting spot for up and coming talent- the new Belgium ?

JimInGreensboro added 16:44 - May 18
To be honest, all of these discussions are remarkably similar to last year’s, anticipating we’ll need new parts for this or that. I’m not convinced. I think McKenna’s style of play is transformational and will sustain itself in the Prem, as it did quite unexpectedly in the Championship. That being said, it would be nice to have Omari back.

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