The Fourth Man

Matt Rhead, Ollie Palmer, Matt Green… plus one. I think it is understood Danny wants two players for each position, and up front that leaves us one short. I’ve already discussed how Ade Azeez slipping through our fingers indicates we’re in the market for a striker, and I think DC is looking for a ‘project’. I’ve seen a tweet tonight that jogged my memory of an ‘in the know’ conversation I had with someone a while back.

Firstly, Azeez. He was the Partick Thistle striker whom we were linked with. His stats weren’t special at all, but I’m told Danny saw ‘something’ in him that meant he was worth a gamble. Unfortunately his former team mate David Amoo moved to Cambridge, and that gave Azeez a chance to get closer to home. Given who we’ve landed due to logistics this week I’m not going to criticise the lad for that. What it did prove is that Danny was looking for an uncut diamond, a squad player he could work with to improve and mould into a potential game changer.

Back in late May I was having one of my chats with a friend of a guy who knows a directors wife’s hairdresser, you know how it is. We were talking targets, Josh Ginnelly cropped up, Harry Anderson was spoken about, and then he dangled a somewhat uninformed carrot in front of me. He said we were interested in some lad from Barnsley, a lad who was in the non league before but isn’t cutting it at Oakwell. He couldn’t remember the lad’s name, but he said Danny liked him and thought he could make something of him.

I immediately thought of Stefan Payne, the former Dover player who spent some time on loan at Shrewsbury last season. He was quick boy, proven in the National League but maybe out of his depth at Barnsley. I didn’t blog about it, it seemed too tenuous and although I probably mentioned it in passing, the rumour would have started with me and I don’t like to work that way.

Then I flick on Twitter this evening, and Shaun Tuton (pictured top) pops up. I remembered seeing him at Halifax on Boxing Day 2015, and shortly after he was scoring against City on New Years Day. At one point he drew comparisons with Jamie Vardy, and ten goals from 24 starts seemed to point to his potential. Six of those came in a blistering 14 days in November 2015, and another three in three, including his City strike, made league clubs sit up and take notice. An undisclosed fee soon found its way into the Halifax bank account, and he was heading to Barnsley in exchange.

Azeez – missed the chance to sign for us

Seven goalless games marked the start of his Barnsley career, and the end of it too. Once the season was over he joined League Two Grimsby on a season-long loan, but 12 games without a goal saw him return to Oakwell at the turn of the year. He then ended up on loan at Barrow, scoring on his debut against Aldershot to end a year-long drought. Luckily His solitary goal didn’t fire Barrow into the play-offs, and he returned to Barnsley at the end of the year. Now there are rumours circulating of him moving clubs, and according to Twitter we’re in the race along with National League sides Halifax and Tranmere.

Has Danny been watching Tuton all along? Was my rather vague source correct back in May? Whilst his stats don’t set the world alight, neither did those of Ade Azeez and yet Danny saw something in him. Tuton isn’t the big bruiser such as Palmer or Rhead, so he would be the alternative to Matt Green, something the squad needs. If anything last season we struggled for forward players, and a meticulous planner like DC won’t have that happen again. Not all of our signings will have the ‘wow’ factor, and whoever comes in after Bostwick and Anderson will seem like an anti-climax.

Tuton might just be the rough diamond that Danny can polish up. He only spent six months at Halifax after signing from Buxton, and many of those Barnsley games were just two or three-minute cameos. He has perhaps suffered from being labelled the ‘next Jamie Vardy’, and he needed time to adjust not only to the Football League, but maybe full-time football as a whole. If he is on Danny’s radar then he might just be the dark horse signing of the summer, the slow burner that perhaps doesn’t make the headlines, but will eventually reap rewards.

I’ve also seen some Twitter activity around Dayle Southwell and a potential year-long loan deal at Sincil Bank. I’m happy to stand corrected in the long-term if I’m wrong here, but I can’t see that happening. He didn’t cover himself in glory last time he was here, not with his reaction to coming off at North Ferriby. There is no doubt Southwell is an able footballer and a natural finisher, and we saw him half fit and perhaps frustrated with his predicament. He is from Louth, last I heard he had a girlfriend here and perhaps he wants a move closer to home, but would he be a fit?

I wouldn’t be upset to see him move to City, but unless there is a personal reason he wants to get closer to home then it won’t happen. Why would Wycombe loan a striker they have invested in to us for a year? What benefit would there be for them? Unless they have an unhappy player, and we’re willing to forget that dodgy loan spell (perhaps the second-worst after Tom Champion) then he could be a good acquisition, but there are a lot of ‘ifs’ right there.

I’m fairly confident the next two players through the door will be a striker and cover in the full-back area, but who will be the fourth man? Who will be putting pressure on Matt, Ollie, and Matt? Are there more surprises to come from this roller-coaster pre-season?