Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver excited by striking options ahead of National League play-offs
The Wetherby Road outfit are set to host the winner of Boreham Wood versus FC Halifax Town on July 25, with a place at Wembley the prize for whoever emerges victorious from that semi-final clash.
Thirteen-goal top-scorer Jack Muldoon and ex-Premier League ace Jon Stead were leading the line for Town when 2019/20 was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, but Town now boast real strength-in-depth in the final third.
The prolific Aaron Martin signed from Guiseley shortly before the nation went into lockdown, while Kian Harratt has re-joined the club on loan from Championship Huddersfield Town, and Mark Beck is also back in training.
“I’ll have five forwards to choose from heading into the play-offs and that’s exciting for me,” Weaver said.
“We’ve got different options and competition for places, which is why there’s been such a good edge in training.
“Aaron Martin has wanted to make his mark, and he has. He split Warren Burrell’s lip and headed the back of Will Smith’s head setting up a goal from a corner.
“Obviously he hasn’t meant to hurt any of his team-mates. But, he’s very physical and won’t let people have their own way, which is exactly what we need.
“He’s a bit of a throwback. He reminds me of Troy Deeney. We like to play two up front and with him as one of that two we know he’ll provide us with a platform.
“He’s also got the work-rate. He’ll always close down defenders, which is something that we like. Even at the top level, you can see the rewards that forwards who work that hard get.”
Eighteen-year-old Terriers prospect Harratt joined fellow loanees Jack Diamond and Alex Bradley in returning to Harrogate for the play-offs and has already caught Weaver’s eye
“You look at Kian putting a couple in the top corner with his left foot during the last training session and it makes you think,” the Town boss said.
“He’s come back to us a man, as far as I’m concerned. He’s completely different in stature.
“He’d been training with Huddersfield's first team, so he’s looking very sharp and that bodes well for us.
"Just like Aaron Martin, he’s a winner. Even on the training pitch, if these lads give the ball away they’re angry with themselves. They have a point to prove and an attitude that we really like.”
Meanwhile, Beck has finally been given the all-clear to begin running following six months out with a troublesome hamstring issue.
“Becky is definitely getting closer, although I’m not sure exactly how close at this stage,” added Weaver.
“It’s been brilliant to see him back in training. He’s recorded some great times in the running. You could sense the emotion and his relief to be back with all the other players and to be able to run pain-free after months and months out.
“If we could have him on the bench with the option to throw him on for 10 or 20 minutes in the play-offs, that would be a huge boost for all of us because Becky is a big player.”