New-look Rugby Town sign two players but Kevin Thornton departs Butlin Road - The Rugby Observer

New-look Rugby Town sign two players but Kevin Thornton departs Butlin Road

Rugby Editorial 7th Jul, 2016 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

IT WILL be a decidedly new-look Rugby Town side that take to the field for their first pre-season friendly against Cogenhoe next Tuesday with boss James Jepson adding two more players to his squad this week.

Defenders Carl Sibson and Joe Pheasant became the latest to agree deals with the Valley, with both men having finished the 2015-16 season at Town’s NPL South Division counterparts Loughborough Dynamo.

Despite many changes, Jepson shrugged off the lack of continuity from the squad which ended Rugby’s previous campaign.

He said: “When I took over, I said that the door was open to all of last season’s team, but a few of the lads didn’t get back to me and others have decided to move on to a new challenge elsewhere.

“I’m happy with the quality of players that we have brought in instead though, and it’s a positive to have signed Tom Ryan again too, as I know he had offers to go back up to a higher level.”

Ryan will join the contracted David Kolodynski as the only returning regulars from the 2015-16 term which saw Valley eventually finish 14 points off the play-off zone in ninth place.

But Valley have been dealt a blow with the news that midfielder Kevin Thornton will not be returning.

Jepson explained: “With regards to Kevin Thornton, I would like to make it clear that we have tried our best to get him back on board this season, as I know what a good player he can be at this level.

“We made Kev what we believed to be good offer, which he went away to think about it and then he came back and asked for a different offer which we agreed to – but then he asked for more time to think about this too.

“I have chased him further, but unfortunately for whatever reason he still wasn’t ready to commit, so in the light of this we have to get on with our plans without him.”

Another of last season’s roster Jonathan Thorpe – who played a handful of games in the second half of the campaign – may also return, with three others – Nathan Fox, Sam Belcher and Jepson himself – also potentially all set to pull on a Town shirt for a second playing stint at the club.

The latest new-boys Sibson and Pheasant featured for their old club in the 4-1 defeat at Butlin Road back in January, although Sibson only lasted 25 minutes of the game before being sent off for a goal-line handball.

The 24-year-old centre back Sibson is a former Nottingham Forest youth academy prospect, who also lists Quorn and Long Eaton among his former clubs, whilst Pheasant, 26, operates as a right back or centre back and has had previous spells at Ilkeston, Hucknall, and Mickleover.

Tuesday’s Cogenhoe friendly represents the first of eight warm-up games for Town, with another away game at lower level opposition following next Saturday (16th) when Rugby visit Midland League Premier Quorn.

Valley then welcome a Coventry City XI to Butlin Road on Tuesday 19th July, with another home fixture – this time on the 3G artificial surface – against Shepshed on Saturday 23rd.

Jepson’s men round off their preparations for the new Evostik League season with four games against teams operating a level above them in non-league pyramid, including a double header against Southern League Premier Kettering – when both sides will compete for the Newlands Shield.

The Valley boss was looking forward to pitting his new charges against one of his old clubs.  He said: “The Kettering games will hopefully bring a more competitive element to the pre-season schedule, and hopefully a good contingent of fans will travel both ways for the fixtures to give it a little extra atmosphere too.”

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