Sports Editor Tony Bugby brings us the latest from Oldham Athletic
LATICS KICK-OFF their Sky Bet League One campaign at Stevenage on Saturday, August 3rd brimming with confidence after a successful pre-season which included a three-day stint at the Army’s Altcar Training Camp near Southport.
Lee Johnson has assembled a new-look squad and has high hopes that the team can mount a top-half challenge after last season’s brush with relegation.
Latics’ manager has brought in eight new players – it could soon be nine if striker Adam Rooney resolves his contractual dispute with Swindon Town.
Johnson has certainly put his stamp on the squad in the short time he has been at Boundary Park – he took change in March.
And Latics certainly have an abundance of firepower with competition for striking spots intense. They suffered a shortage of goals last season as they battled relegation.
On the striking front, Johnson has brought in seasoned-campaigner Charlie MacDonald and talented youngster Jonson Clarke-Harris and hopefully Rooney will also be on board before the season starts.
They join Jose Baxter, last season’s 15 goal top scorer, and Kirk Millar as five players will be chasing the two striking spots.
Johnson also pulled off a coup by capturing midfield man Korey Smith who was released by Norwich City in the summer. Smith had a nine match loan spell with Latics at the end of the season and they beat off considerable competition to sign him on a two-year deal.
Latics also have two new wingers, Dutchman Sidney Schmeltz and James Dayton along with Latvian central defender Edijs Joksts, midfield man Anton Rodgers and goalkeeper Mark Oxley who has been signed on a season-long loan from Hull City.
While there has been plenty of activity on the playing front, there is plenty happening off the field.
Work continues on the Broadway side of the ground in readiness for the construction of the new North Stand.
And speculation remains rife about the possibility of Latics having new owners in the not-too-distant future.
Chairman Simon Corney, who soon celebrates a decade at the club, is reportedly in talks with a number of interested parties including racehorse owner Dr Marwan Koukash who recently bought Salford Reds Rugby League club.