Celtic’s major rebuild

SIMON Haworth’s major mid-season rebuild of Stalybridge Celtic is far from over, despite four new arrivals at Bower Fold.

Celtic’s manager is still striving to make a couple more signings to add experience to a side on the slide having lost its last four matches.

Mark Pearson

There have also been four players departing in what has been a massive revamp of what had been a settled side which, before the recent slide, had lost only once in 11 games.

“Some players have looked mentally and physically fatigued and things needed freshening up,” explained Haworth.

There was a double capture from Preston North End of Glenn ‘Ethan’ Walker and Adam O’Reilly on youth loans until the end of the season.

Striker Walker, 17, became the youngest ever player to represent Preston in a league fixture when he appeared during a draw against Aston Villa in December 2018.

Walker also appeared in this season’s Carabao Cup win against Bradford City before making four appearances for National League North side Altrincham during a loan spell.

He was the leading scorer in Preston’s youth teams for the last two seasons.

Midfielder O’Reilly, 18, also made his first-team debut alongside Walker against Aston Villa and last season enjoyed a loan spell at Hyde United.

O’Reilly is a former Eire Under-17 international who competed for them at last year’s UEFA U17 Euros.

The most recent capture is midfielder Paddy Lacey, who has signed until the end of the season after leaving National League North side Southport.

Lacey, 26, began his career at Sheffield Wednesday and has since played at Bradford City, Accrington Stanley, Barrow and Altrincham.Haworth said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to sign Paddy Lacey, I’ve known him a long, long time. I think he’s exactly what we need, I never thought we’d sort of get him this season.

“I’ve tried numerous times before to get him into one of my teams as he’s a proper, proper football player, a real leader and takes no nonsense from his own team-mates and from the opposition, which I feel is what we need.

“Paddy is a huge, huge signing for us in terms of his ability and leadership. He’s spent all his career playing at a higher level.

“He’s made a few mistakes in his life that he’s sorted out and I’ve got 100 per cent trust in the boy to come and do a job for us. He’s got my complete backing.

“I think he’s going to be a huge signing for the football club in our push for a play-off place.”

Paddy became Celtic’s third signing last week, following Walker and O’Reilly’s arrival from Preston North End.

Haworth’s friendship with Les Parry, his former physio at Tranmere Rovers, was instrumental in signing 20-year-old central defender Max Taylor from Manchester United, where he is a scout.

Taylor, who returned to football in the autumn after battling cancer for 15 months, joins goalkeeper Alex Fojticek who is also on loan from Reds.

In November, Taylor was on the bench for the UEFA Europa League match at Kazakhstan’s FC Astana.

Haworth has also promoted midfielder Mark Pearson, 19, from the Under-21s to the first team.
Pearson, who was a trainee at Bury, has also featured for Dukinfield Town.

Haworth was disappointed to lose defender/midfielder Mark Lees, who moved to Mossley because he wanted regular football which he was not guaranteed at Celtic.

Lees played 94 games for Celtic across two spells.

Midfielder Nathan Valentine has joined Matlock Town on loan until the end of the season with Haworth admitting the summer move from Scarborough was not successful.

Forward Neil Kengni has joined Marine on loan until March 1 with Haworth saying the move should benefit him as he had struggled to recapture last season’s form.

Left back Jack O’Leary was joined Glossop North End on a one-month loan.

Celtic have also extended the loan of Fojticek, 19, until the end of the season.

The Slovakian Under-19 international returned to Old Trafford at the end of his initial loan and had hoped to find a club at a higher level.

When that failed to materialise, Fojticek was happy to rejoin Celtic.

In the meantime, Celtic signed goalkeeper Toby Savin from Accrington Stanley on a youth loan until the end of the season.

Savin made only one appearance in a goalless draw against Ashton United before being recalled by Stanley because of an injury to one of their goalkeepers.

He featured in the academies at Wigan Athletic, Everton and Crewe Alexandra.

He is rated very highly by Accrington where he made his first-team debut in September in a 2-1 win against Fleetwood Town in the Leasing.com Trophy.

Savin, who featured for Celtic pre-season, also played in the 3-0 win over Oldham Athletic in the same competition.

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