Belper banking on star striker’s return to fitness

Gresley Rovers v Leek Town at the Moat Ground

Kieran O'Connell
Gresley Rovers v Leek Town at the Moat Ground Kieran O'Connell

Belper Town are hoping star striker Kieran O’Connell can regain his form and fitness to kickstart his Nailers career this season.

Although he was registered with Belper last season after leaving Gresley Rovers, O’Connell was unable to play as he tried to recover from a serious knee injury.

But new joint Belper managers Anthony Danylyk and Paul Donnelley know the player well from his time as the star man at Gresley and know what a fully-fit O’Connell would bring.

“We are hoping Kieran will be fit and available this season,” said Danylyk.

“He’s not played a lot of football these past two seasons after doing his cruciate. He’s been out for nearly two years now. But he was a player that, when he was at Gresley and we played them in the semi-final, showed great ability and was probably the stand-out player in that league at the time. Unfortunately he then picked up his injury which has kept him out.

“If we can get him anywhere near to what he was, he will be a great addition.

“He should be training this week and we’ll see how he gets on. Hopefully he doesn’t have any set-backs.”

Belper have two new signings set to complete deals this weekend at the end of the first week back in training.

“It’s been busy again and we have a couple of players we wanted coming in now, though we can’t sign anyone until 1st July,” said Danylyk.

“They are both players Paul and I have been looking at over the past season when we were at Leek. They are lads not based a million miles away from Belper too.

“We are trying to keep things local as much as we can rather than have players travelling in from here, there and everywhere.

“It’s better to try, when you can, to get players from around the area though you do have to go out of the area on occasions.

“Ideally we’d like to keep the majority of the squad Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire-based.

“We are trying to get a good competitive side and then we’ve got some lads that can hopefully provide a bit of flair and give us that bit of something extra that you need to push you on to the next step.

“The two new lads offer a bit of both really. They can do both sides of that.”

He added: “We also have a few more coming in on a trial basis and hopefully then we will be in a good position.

“We still have a few lads who are away who we are waiting to register as well as a few other things in the pipeline.

“It’s not a very nice time of the year as a football manager as you’re starting pre-season and players might start talking to other clubs.

“Hopefully we won’t lose anyone, especially from the lads we’ve already spoken to who were here last year.

“Obviously it will be new to them with me and Paul coming in. It’s a chance for us to have a look at them and for them to have a look at us and see if they agree with how we are doing things.

“I think they will enjoy it and if they enjoy it that’s when you get the best out of players.

“Hopefully in the next week or so it will all start falling into place.”