Two deals done, but what is next for Harrogate Town in the transfer market?
Harrogate Town completed their first two pieces of summer transfer business this week as Simon Weaver prepares the club for their debut season in the Football League.
Former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Connor Kirby and ex-Wrexham defender Jake Lawlor were unveiled on Tuesday, with further additions expected to follow.
Boss Weaver has confirmed that the club are “close” to agreeing terms with an attacking player and also revealed that he has identified a number of other targets.
“The three loan lads from last season have all gone back to their parent clubs and we also released three defenders. Sam Jones left as well, so we do need numbers,” he said.
“Because those players have gone, we do have room for manoeuvre in terms of the budget, which means we can add some extra quality without spilling over the parameters we set.
“There is a determination, both from myself and at board level, not to go overboard with spending, though we’re going into the Football League, the squad needs padding.
“We need at least a couple of defenders. I’d also like another winger in to add more goals from another area of the pitch. If we can get Jack Diamond back [on loan from Sunderland] as well, then that’s great, but we have to have competition for places.
“We’re looking at a few players. We want options in midfield and in attack and we’re fishing in a bigger pond since promotion, however we have to be aware of the pitfalls that come with it.”
Winger Diamond remains high on Weaver’s list of priorities given the scintillating form that he produced towards the end of the regular season and during Town’s successful play-off campaign, though it seems likely that that the 20-year-old will begin 2020/21 with his parent club.
So impressed was he by Diamond’s application while on loan at the CNG Stadium, Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson is keen to take a closer look at the youngster during pre-season before making any decision on his immediate future.
The Gatehead-born attacker’s exploits in yellow and black have reportedly sparked interest from other League Two sides in the shape of Carlisle United and Grimsby Town, though Weaver is convinced that if Diamond does eventually end up available for loan once again, then Harrogate would be his most likely destination.
“We’d dearly love to have Jack Diamond in our squad, but Sunderland just want a look at him in their pre-season schedule,” the Town boss added.
“If he’s not playing games for Sunderland or really in the match-day squad and pushing, I think there’ll only be one place where he’ll go out on loan, which is Harrogate Town.
“That’s the best we can hope for at the minute.
“I think they [Sunderland] have enjoyed him coming out on loan to us because he’s enjoyed his football and it has accelerated his progress and development, so we’re well-placed to getJack back.
“But, his performances have made their manager sit up and take notice as well.”
Diamond himself has insisted that, for the time being, he is solely focused on trying to force his way into Parkinson’s plans.
“The gaffer hasn’t seen me in training with him yet and I want to go in there and make an impression as soon as I can,” he told the Sunderland Echo ahead of his return to Wearside.
“After Sunday [Town’s play-off final victory over Notts County], my focus turns to trying to get into the Sunderland first-team.
“Sometimes when you go out on loan you can worry that you’ll be forgotten about.
“But my attitude towards the whole thing was that it was a forward step, and I feel like my game has come on a lot and now there’s no reason why I can’t go in there and impress and do what I can do. It’s my goal to be in that first-team, it’s what I’m there for.”
Speaking ahead of Diamond’s return to Sunderland, Black Cats chief Parkinson said: “We’ve got Jack Diamond coming back from his loan spell, and I’m looking forward to looking at Jack in pre-season with us.
“There’s a pathway for young players to be in our team.”