Joe Leesley dreaming of Harrogate Town title bid and more England C caps

Joe Leesley was announced as Harrogate Town's sixth signing at the weekend
Joe Leesley was announced as Harrogate Town's sixth signing at the weekend

England C international Joe Leesley hopes his midfield partnership with former Alfreton Town teammate Andi Thanoj will lead Harrogate Town to the title next season.

Town boss Simon Weaver has recruited both midfield players over the past week and the pair are likely to share set piece responsibilities at the CNG Stadium.

Leesley was used as a versatile midfielder during Alfreton’s tenth-placed finish in National League North last season and captained the side on several occasions.

The 22-year-old has eyes an top of the table assault in Harrogate.

On joining the club, he said: “From playing against them this year and seeing the success, I thought it was a step in the right direction.

“Simon seemed like the guy I wanted to work under.

Leesely joins former Alfreton Town teammate Andi Thanoj at Town

Leesely joins former Alfreton Town teammate Andi Thanoj at Town

“The reason why I have chosen to come is to try and win the league, and win promotion. That’s all.”

Paul Fairclough handed Leesley his non league international debut earlier this month in a narrow defeat against Slovakia U21s.

The midfielder, who can also operate at left-back, believes his decision to move to Harrogate Town will see more international opportunities in the future.

He said: “I think I deserved the call up because I had a really strong end of the season. The game was fantastic against Slovakia. To represent your country at any level is a great thing. My goal is to get back performing well at Harrogate and get chosen for the next game.

Leesley admitted Town’s plan to insert an artificial pitch next season was one of the reasons he was attracted to sign on Wetherby Road.

He said: “They are a great idea and it promotes the football I want to play. We don’t want to play on bobbly pitches.

“Me and Andi both play in midfield and there were some away games last season where you just couldn’t play football. At least we can guarantee we can play our game.”

Thanoj became Weaver’s fifth signing of the season last Thursday and has been likened to former Town hero Adam Bolder.

The 23-year-old, who has two U21 international caps for Albania, spent two seasons at Alfreton after starting his senior career at Grimsby Town.

Weaver said: “He’ll be playing on a good surface and hopefully in a good team so he can make the most of his talent. He seems motivated with the coaching and training he will receive and is well up for jumping on board.

“He’s a very gifted passer in the Adam Bolder mould, and that’s something I felt we have missed.”

“He’s happy collecting the ball and supplying it.

“He’s got a nice swagger about him and that’s something we want to add to games in order to dominate that centre midfield.”