Who will be in the first choice eleven?
As Chester Citys pre-season preparations rattle
on, the most pressing question supporters find themselves
asking is exactly who will be in Mark Wright's first
choice eleven when the big kick off arrives. Thats
the headache Mark Wright will have on August 17. Just
who will he leave out? There is every chance of seeing
a few disappointed footballers mulling around the east
stand as Chester City step out onto the outstanding new
Deva Stadium surface come five to three that afternoon.
Through this feature we examine the players' credentials
Wayne Brown England semi-professional
goalkeeper Wayne Brown was a trainee with both Southampton
and Bristol City before he made the move to the Deva
Stadium. Despite the arrival of a little competition
Mark Wright highly rates Brown. He made 22 appearances
for Bristol City before joining Chester in 1998 and he
has now featured well over 200 times for City. Having
signed a new contract with Chester in the summer, surely
Brown will be the main man between the sticks?
Steve Harkness 30-Year-old defender
Steve Harkness is arguably the most high profile of Mark
Wright's summer acquisitions. Harkness started his career
at Carlisle before earning a move to Premiership giants
Liverpool in 1989. He spent time on loan at Huddersfield
and Southend before breaking into the Liverpool first
team in the 1995/96 season.
He made over 125 appearances for Liverpool
before joining Benfica on a free transfer under the Bosman
ruling in 1999. He only lasted a matter of months and
returned to England to join Blackburn Rovers. He then
moved onto Sheffield Wednesday where he spent two seasons
before moving to the Deva Stadium on a non-contract basis.
Perhaps Harkness holds the key to a strong defensive
rearguard this season?
Bolland (pictured) In my personal opinion Bolland
has been the best signing Mark Wright has made so far.
He spent three months on loan at the Deva Stadium and
impressed enough to secure a move to Chester for £15,000.
Bolland started his career in Cheshire at Altrincham
and moved to Southport on a free in 1997, where he
played under current Chester boss Mark Wright. He spent
a season at Oxford United before he was reunited with
Wright as Chester secured his services on a permanent
basis, but is he guaranteed a place in Wright's starting
Wayne Hatswell defender Wayne
Hatswell was snapped up on a free transfer from Chester
boss Mark Wright in the summer of 2002 after impressing
at Oxford where hed spent two seasons following
a £35,000 move from Forest Green Rovers. Hatswell
has been handed the number six jersey for the start of
the season, possibly indicating that he'll be a regular
in Wright's team.
Martyn Lancaster defender Martyn ´Lanky Lancaster
is a product of the youth system at the Deva Stadium
and has made over 100 appearances for the club during
the past four years. Premiership clubs had been sniffing
around Lancaster and he spent time on trial at Aston
Villa, who were unwilling to meet Chesters asking
price for the defender. Everton were also interested
once however his career nearly ended prematurely when
he was released by Chester at the end of last season
following an incident at Dagenham & Redbridge. But Mark
Wright reconsidered and re-signed the defender, possibly
just to provide cover in defence.
Carl Ruffer Defender Carl Ruffer
started his career at Everton but joined Runcorn in 1995
on a free transfer. The former England semi-pro international
moved to the Deva Stadium in August 2000 and has made
around 50 appearances since joining the club but are
his days now numbered following Wrights defensive
Lee Woodyatt Defender Lee Woodyatt
graduated into the Chester first team in 2001 after rising
through the ranks of the youth system at the Deva Stadium.
Woodyatt has already won a call up to the Welsh under-18
squad and will be looking to break into the first team
at Chester this season. The youngster impressed Wright
with his fine performances last season and should feature
more often next season.
Kevin McIntyre Liverpool-born
midfielder Kevin McIntyre started his career at Tranmere
Rovers as a trainee where he made two substitute appearances
for the Prenton Park outfit. He went on loan to Barrow
before signing for Doncaster Rovers in 1999, but he moved
to the Deva Stadium on a free transfer in the summer
of 2002 after refusing to sign a new contract at Doncaster.
Chris Blackburn Midfielder Chris
Blackburn is a product of Chesters youth academy
and held down a regular place in the first team last
season, scoring four goals. Speculation surrounded Blackburns
future in the summer as he spent two weeks on trial at
Manchester City but he returned to the Deva Stadium and
will look to take his good form from last season into
the new campaign.
Jimmy Kelly Jimmy Kelly was
another of Mark Wrights summer 2002 signings after
he joined on a free following his refusal to sign a new
contract at Doncaster Rovers. The 29-year-old midfielder
started his career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, moved
to Wrexham but was released by the club and he joined
Hednesford Town where he made thirty appearances in two
years. He then joined Doncaster for a fee of £15,000
before being snapped up by Wright. Will he be playing
a key role in Midfield.
Michael Twiss Former Manchester
United midfielder, Michael Twiss made two appearances
for the Old Trafford club in the mid-nineties after graduating
through their youth system. He failed to make the grade,
however, and spent time on loan at Sheffield United before
joining Port Vale on a free transfer in 2000, where he
had just one season. He joined non-league Leigh RMI last
summer and scored 15 goals, including three against Chester
(shame on him!). Mark Wright beat York City and others
to capture his signature and should now be hoping he
can continue his rich vein of form down the Deva.
Paul Carden Paul Carden returned
for his second spell at Chester City in November 2001.
The midfielder started his career at Blackpool and made
his debut at the age of just 17, live on Sky Sports against
Preston North End. It was his only appearance for Blackpool
and he joined Rochdale in 1998 on a free transfer. He
joined Chester on loan in March 2000 before making the
switch permanent that summer. He spent just one season
at the Deva before joining Doncaster for £10,000.
After just four months at Doncaster, he returned to Chester
for £4,000 but is he in Mark Wrights long
Davies (pictured) Midfielder Ben Davies became
Mark Wrights first summer signing when he joined
Chester in July 2002 on a free transfer from Kidderminster.
He joins the ranks under the recommendation of Hull
City manager Jan Molby. He started his career at Walsall
and will be looking to break into the Chester first
team after making just 15 professional appearances
during his career so far.
Stuart Whittaker Midfielder
Stuart Whittaker began his career at Liverpool as a trainee.
However, he had just one season at Anfield before joining
Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer. Spells at Wigan
Athletic and Macclesfield soon followed before he teamed
up with Mark Wright at Southport. When Wright became
manager at Chester, he moved quickly to secure the services
of Whittaker. The midfielder made an impressive debut
for City, winning the man of the match award. He scored
a hat trick for Chester against Stevenage Borough in
April 2002 and should provide City with much needed width
Danny Collins Midfielder Daniel
Collins joined from local Cymru Alliance side, Buckley
Town and he signed professional forms with the club in
December 2001. He has since made seven appearances for
City and has potential to progress. Perhaps Mark will
see him as one for the future?
Jimmy Haarhoff Zambian born
striker Jimmy Haarhoff is a firm favourite with the Chester
faithful thanks to his lively early performances in attack.
He started his career at Birmingham City where he made
just one substitute appearance for the Blues before joining
Chester in January 2001. Operating on either wing or
in attack, Haarhoff wrote to several clubs in the hope
that they might take him on following his decision to
leave St Andrews. Still only 21, but will he feature
more regularly for Chester this season?
Dave Cameron Tall 6'2" striker
Dave Cameron was one of many players who made the move
to the Deva Stadium in the summer of 2002 as Mark Wright
bolstered his squad. Cameron started his career at St
Mirren in Scotland before joining Brighton. He has also
had spells at Raith, Worthing and Lincoln City. He scored
eleven goals in two years at Lincoln, making around 70
appearances. Will he feature regularly up front for the
Ryan Sugden Another Striker
Ryan Sugden signed on a free transfer from Scarborough
in June 2002 after he spent just four months at the Yorkshire
club, making 12 appearances and scoring three goals.
Sugden began his career at Oldham Athletic and is highly
thought of by Chester boss Mark Wright after impressing
whilst playing against Chester in a Scarborough shirt.
Perhaps Ryan will provide the much needed competition
needed up front to keep the other strikers on their toes!
Michael Brown Veteran forward
Michael Brown signed a two-year deal with Mark Wrights
side in the summer of 2002. Hes had three spells
at Shrewsbury Town as well as Bolton Wanderers, Preston,
Rochdale and Boston United. Hes made just under
450 appearances during his career and scored 36 goals.
Brodie (pictured) Striker Steve Brodie started
his career at Sunderland as a trainee, making twelve
appearances for the Wearside club. He joined Scarborough
on a free transfer in 1997 and scored 52 goals in just
under 200 appearances. Moved to Swansea City last summer
but was released at the end of the season and he signed
a two year deal at the Deva Stadium. The player has
looked lively throughout pre-season and should expect
to be selected in many starting line ups.
Mark Beesley Young striker Mark
Beesley was signed by Graham Barrow after scoring 20
goals for Preston Reserves in 1999/2000. He joined Chester
on a free transfer and has been the clubs leading
scorer on two occasions, having found the back of the
net 30 times during his time at the Deva Stadium. He
netted 16 times last season but will he find it more
difficult to retain his place in the team this time around?
1 August 2002