Ones to watch: Nico Muir and Lee Shaw

Continuing in our series of players to watch, we’ve got a couple of non-league strikers who might just have what it takes to step up to the Football League. Again, much depends on whether Danny is bringing in established talent or whether he’s willing to take a punt on a fresh face.

First up is Lee Shaw (pictured top), someone you might have heard of. Shaw is currently at Grantham Town and scores more regularly than Pete Doherty did in his heyday. He joined the Gingerbreads in 2015/16 from Harrowby United and ended up landing all of the player awards at the end of the season. A year later it was the same again, his 28 goals making him a shoe in for another clean sweep.

This seasons he’s already bagged 23 as he matures as a striker, including four against Sutton Coldfield, as well as recent hat trick against Buxton. He’s clearly got an eye for goal and despite being highly unproven at this level he might represent a good gamble. At the time of his arrival he was touted as an exciting prospect by Chief Executive Keith Horton:

“We are extremely pleased to have secured Lee’s signature,” he told the club website. “The management at Grantham Town are committed to the development of young local talent and we are very pleased to be able to play a part in the development of a young talented local player.

First team manager Adam Stevens agreed, saying:  “Lee’s style of play fits exactly with the high intensity and fast paced game that we intend to bring to our league programme for the coming season.”

High intensity? That certainly sounds like us and the boy clearly has an eye for goal. Whether a Football League club is the next step, or whether the National League would be a better option remains to be seen, but Lee Shaw is a name it is certainly worth keeping an eye on over the coming months.

Niko Muir is a name I think Danny will already be well aware of. He’s currently playing for Hendon in the Isthmian League which feeds into the Conference South. He is a powerful striker who returned to the club in the summer of 2017 from Leiston.  Muir scored 11 times in 30 appearances for Leiston as Glenn Driver’s men just failed to reach the Isthmian Premier play-offs, and forged a good partnership in attack with the league’s golden boot winner, Matt Blake. Since arriving at Hendon he’s been singled out for praise by their veteran defender Casey Maclaren who said recently: “Niko Muir is a quality, quality centre forward – as good as I’ve ever played with. He knows where the back of the net is and does so much more than that.”

Muir

Muir is 24 and if he’s going to make the step up, surely it has to be soon. This season for Hendon he has been in great form, grabbing 17 goals in the same league as big-spending Billericay. His form has alerted a range of managers and I would bet my house on Danny at least being aware of his ability. I believe we have room for one ‘project’ striker, one player who jumps up from the non-league and grabs his chance. Look at Jamie Vardy, look at Lyle Taylor, even look at Simeon Akinola. These are all players that have come from the lower reaches of the pyramid to the professional game. Nathan Muir looks set to be the next.

He really does fit the bill of a Danny centre-forward too. He’s good in the air but he’s a really powerful boy, bullish and strong with a natural ability for finishing. He grabbed a brace last Saturday against Thurrock as Hendon ran out 4-1 winners and it is his goals alone that have fired them to seventh in the table.

I’m utterly convinced Danny will spring a surprise on us this January, I’m sure he’ll bring in a project, a player he can develop and turn into the next big thing. He’s so well-known for it, Lyle Taylor was with him at Concord, Sean Raggett and Alex Woodyard perhaps the most recent examples of it. He likes a forward with pace and power and if anything Muir is in the Taylor mould, perhaps even the Akinola mould too. If he’s looking to step up and recognises the wonderful work Danny does with players, he’d be a fool not to join us, wouldn’t he?

Shaw, Muir and even Hendon’s exciting 19-year old Keagan Cole would all represent a gamble for a Football league club, but with the budgets in League Two as they are I believe a club can afford a gamble or two. Will Lincoln City be the next to unearth a striker from the non-league scene?