Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton spoke about the future of a number of players at Thursday’s question and answer session with South Shields supporters at Mariners Park – and revealed goalkeeper Craig Turns had agreed a return to the club.
Picton and Fenton chatted with fans for one hour and 45 minutes at the Members’ Club event.
The pair discussed the future of a number of players.
Fenton said: “Darren Holden has left the football club for the foreseeable future.
“We felt it was only right – as well as he did for us when he got his opportunities last season – to let him go and allow him to play more regularly.
“We felt that he might not get as many opportunities as he’d like next season, and had to be honest with him.
“It’s the same with Iulian Petrache. Before he joined us, he had been used to being in a full-time environment with all of his clubs, and he wants to get back to that so is exploring his options.
“We can’t provide him with a full-time training environment to get him back as sharp as he would like.
“Louis Storey will be with us next season. He suffered a bad leg break last season and did extremely well to get back to the level he did towards the end of the campaign.
“We’re hoping that he’ll have a strong off-season, then a really good pre-season to get as sharp and fit as possible, and then hopefully be pushing to get into the team.
“Jordan Blinco will do pre-season with us. He will be with us to see what levels he can get to.
“He joined us towards the end of last season and did well when he had his opportunities. We were delighted with him.
“He has had that real setback of being released from a Premier League club. Lads often find it difficult to get over that.
“He has got his head around the fact he might be playing at this level, and hopefully we can benefit from his services next season.”
Picton said: “With Jordan Blinco and Louis Storey, as well as Craig Turns, who we’ve brought in as a back-up goalkeeper to Liam Connell, we’ll start pre-season with 19 players, which is two or three less than we ended last season with.
“We’ve brought in Craig because we felt a little bit exposed at times last season having just one genuine goalkeeper in Liam. It was always on our agenda to bring in a second goalkeeper
“The one player that hasn’t been mentioned so far is Stephen Ramsey.
“His leg is still in quite a bad way after he broke it towards the end of last season.
“We’ve had a conversation with him and his first priority is to get himself fit and then to try and work his way back into the first-team fold.
“We’ve kept that one open with Stephen.
“He has been part of this club for such a long time and deserves more than anyone else to be able to fight for his place in the squad, so that will happen.”
A full transcript from the Q&A will be published on the club website on Monday.
The club is delighted to announce the signing of former Hartlepool United and Gateshead player Darren Holden.
The left-back was most recently with Jarrow Roofing, who he joined late last month.
The 23-year-old, who can also play further up the left flank, was born in Krugersdorp, South Africa, before moving to England at a young age.
He progressed through Hartlepool’s academy, and eventually became a first-team regular at Victoria Park, making over 60 Football League appearances for the club, having made his debut aged 17 and turned professional in 2012.
In 2015, Holden left Pools and signed for Scottish Premier League outfit Ross County, before joining Gateshead this February.
He made seven National League appearances in what remained of last season, before linking up with Roofing for a short time after becoming unattached.
Known as an attack-minded full-back with plenty of pace, Holden also possesses an impressively long throw.
He can’t wait to get started at Mariners Park.
Holden said: “I’m happy that the deal is done and am really looking forward to getting started.
“I’ve spoken to the management and they told me the club is going places, so that’s what I want to be a part of.
“Hopefully I can be involved and help the club along with that challenge.
“I read about how well the club did last season and how well it has been doing this season as well.
“The gates they’re getting just show the way the club is going, which is the right direction, and I’m delighted to be involved now.”
Darren is eligible to play in all but the League Cup for the Mariners this season, and is available to make his debut in Saturday’s Northern League Division One match with Dunston UTS at Mariners Park.
Welcome aboard, Darren!