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League Two Summer Update: Good times are back for County?

English Football League RSS / / 09 July 2009 /

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Middle Eastern investors are active even in the lower leagues. Ian Lamont fills you in on the action in League Two.

One swallow doth not a summer make. One victory doth not an Ashes series win. One multi-million takeover doth not the title guarantee. Ask Manchester City.

There may be more ground to gain when Middle Eastern investors sink cash into a League Two side, namely Notts County, than one in the Premiership, but that does not mean success will be any more instant.

However, the price on a Magpies League Two title win has shrunk from an early sighter [33.0] to about [14.0]. My mild cynical nature steers me to think about joining the layers at that price, but in July one should cautiously monitor results and performances in pre-season.

There is an upbeat feel around Meadow Lane, with boss Ian McParland saying the takeover and new training ground making it "feel like a proper club again" and players like midfielder Ben Davies attracted by the "ambition" and predicting exciting times. But it is easy to be optimistic before a ball has been kicked in anger.

County have certainly been quite busy making signings, with Davies "torn" to leave Shrewsbury. Midfielders Neal Bishop (Barnet), Ricky Ravenhill (Darlington) and three-time promotion winning defender Graeme Lee (Bradford) can all add experience of the level, and it is nice to see Kettering's Craig Westcarr, born in Nottingham, given a chance from non-league. Perhaps he can supply the goals that were lacking last term.

Defender Dean Holden has been making equally bullish noises about Davies' old club Shrewsbury, interrupting his holiday to sign from Falkirk. It is a measure of the beaten play-off finalists' desire that they have dismissed an initial Colchester bid for £180,000 striker Grant Holt.

The first job - filling the gaping hole in goal after loanee and penalty saver Luke Daniels went back to West Brom - seems to have been done to Paul Simpson's satisfaction. He has signed Blackburn's released keeper Andreas Arestidou to challenge Glynn Garner for the gloves. In, too, come Lewis Neal, a winger from Carlisle and Craig Disley, a midfielder from Bristol Rovers.

Hereford, mocked in some quarters for relying on loans to get themselves out of the division the season before last, have been busy recruiting. Playmaker Kenny Lunt, once tipped to sign for Liverpool, arrives from Sheffield Wednesday, alongside ex-Shrewsbury and Macclesfield midfielder Jamie Tolley and non-league's keeper of the year Adam Bartlett, surprisingly on a free.

The one that set the radar buzzing for me, though, was John Trewick's capture of Glenn Southam, because there have been quite a few exits from Dagenham and Redbridge this summer. John Still is renowned by the Victoria Road faithful for finding and polishing gems and has brought in Arsenal defender Abu Ogogo and three non-leaguers, Stuart Thurgood, a powerhouse midfielder who deserved better than Grays, Hayes striker Josh Scott and Bishop Stortford winger Danny Green. Well, most of the team went up with Still from non-league, so there is no better place to start when looking for replacements.

Gone are defender Magnus Okuonghue, bought by Colchester, and Ben Strevens, Sam Saunders and Danny Foster, all to Brentford. One seasoned Daggers watched I know reckons Strevens isn't League One quality, so perhaps he wasn't what Still was looking for if the Daggers are to push on.

One significant piece of business was done swiftly at the end of last season. Chester were no sooner relegated than Ryan Lowe and striker partner Kevin Ellison vowed to stay in the division. Lowe left for the tight-knit well-organised group that is Bury, replacing Glynn Hurst, while his link-man should do well out of a move to Rotherham. The Millers accumulated big points after a big points deduction last season and are correct title favourites on that form, which placed them in the promotion picture. It's a different pressure now, however. Wanted frontman Reuben Reid has handed in a transfer request but Nicky Law, on loan at Bradford last season, has decided it is the right place to be, turning down a permanent switch to the Bantams.

With the recession biting budgets, there are bound to be more free transfer signings, loans and trialists than for many a year. Purse strings are never more closely monitored than at my beloved Aldershot Town, with 1992's collapse of the area's football club still fresh in the memory.

Gary Waddock had the rug pulled from under him in January and there was suddenly no money to sign new faces. There have been no arrivals in the summer, yet, prompting them to be one of the favourites for relegation. I'm not worried - yet - but they still need a right-back.

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