Pickering finding recruitment for Northern League challenging – Roberts

Northern League 

Pickering Town manager Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts admits Pickering Town are finding player recruitment challenging after their move to the Northern League.

However, Roberts is remaining upbeat and hopeful he can assemble a team who will be competing at the right end of the Northern League. 

In the short-term though, Pickering go into the beginning of pre-season without any confirmed new signings.

“I will be upfront and say it has proven difficult speaking to (new) players and attracting them to come,” Roberts told Non League Yorkshire.

“Every avenue I have gone down…I’ve hit a brick wall.

“It was logistically hard anyway (to recruit) and now we’re in the Northern League it is proving more difficult than I thought it would be.

“I thought it would open up a new network (of players) and I had several meetings in the North East with players – none have been successful.

“I actually shook a hand with a player who agreed to sign but he went home and looked at the travelling and within 24 hours he pulled out and said it was too much travelling.

“I’ve spoke to a lot more on the phone and not even got to the meeting stage.

“I’ve had no joy with any.

“The players (from the North East) I have spoken to are saying there is a lot of clubs on their doorstep and also financially there’s a lot of money in the North East.

“There’s no point getting down about it though. You have to remain positive.”

Under a succession of managers, attracting players to the North Yorkshire club has always been difficult because of their geographical location.

The FA’s decision to move Pickering into a league with the likes of Whitley Bay, West Auckland and Sunderland RCA has meant Roberts cannot tap into players from areas he previously he did.

“I’ve lost (the ability to attract) Hull-based players where we had a few players,” he said.

“We had a Doncaster base too and we’ve lost that too.

“We’re looking now this side of Leeds, York and the Harrogate and Knaresborough areas.

“If we can attract some Northern League players from the Redcar, Northallerton way and get a base there, that would be brilliant.”

One plan to counter the recruitment issues is the holding of open trials in the next ten days.

“We’re holding open trials and there may be a chance for players who haven’t had a look-in (at Step 5) to get an opportunity at Pickering,” he said.

“If they think they have the ability it is up to them to get in touch with us.”

Pickering Town captain Wayne Brooksby

Another reason not to panic is because players will become available during pre-season when higher league squads are trimmed.

The loan market could also be a source of incomings.

Despite the current woes, Roberts is hoping Pickering will quickly establish themselves in the Northern League.

“A lot of clubs might have 25 training and obviously numbers don’t match up so players do move early in pre-season when they realise they won’t be involved,” he said.

“It would be nice to start the season quite strong.

“We have retained Wayne Brooksby and a few others who haven’t been announced so I don’t think it is as bad as it looks on paper.

“The aims realistically are to get settled in the Northern League because it is a tough league.

“It is a transitional period but we want to go in and be competitive.

“We want to be in the top half.

“If we have a good start we’ll see where it takes us because you never know.”

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