One thing I’ve learned pretty quickly from the Swindon Town manager is he’s a man of his word.
At the end of last season Richie Wellens said he would be putting his stamp fully across the side during the summer months, and true to his word we’ve seen changes aplenty right throughout the squad, with eleven players departing SN1 during the summer, and seven arriving to-date.
Those seven arrivals are Tyler Reid, Zeki Fryers, Adam May, Jerry Yates, Daniel Ballard, Mathieu Baudry, and Rob Hunt.
Over the two previous transfer windows, the players coming into the club has, on the whole, been underwhelming. There has been the odd exception, but this summer the majority of players that have arrived have caught many Town fans off guard.
One that springs to mind instantly is Zeki Fryers, who arrives with a big reputation on a free transfer after being released by Barnsley.
Fryers enjoyed one of the best footballing educations you can get in the game at Manchester United, and has played at some huge clubs throughout his career, but we know he has underachieved after all the hype surrounding him at a young age, otherwise, he wouldn’t be signing for Swindon Town in League Two.
But if we can keep him free from injury and he gets a full pre-season behind him we have a very exciting player in our squad.
Another name I was surprised to see arrive in Wiltshire was Jerry Yates. The young striker enjoyed a good loan spell at Carlisle United last season, especially around November/December as he scored 6 goals in 7 games before being recalled by his parent club, Rotherham United.
With the Millers being relegated back into League One it seemed logical he would play a role at the New York Stadium after finishing last season on the fringes of their first team.
It seems an odd decision from Paul Warne to loan him out, but one which will benefit Town and Richie Wellens this season who said publically after he signed the young striker on a loan that Jerry was his main transfer target this summer.
Let’s hope he can hit the ground running, as over the past few seasons we haven’t had a striker that has troubled the goal-scoring charts early in the season, which has lead to two mediocre starts in our previous League Two campaigns.
The final name I wanted to concentrate on is someone I hadn’t heard of, or I’m sure not many Town fans would of either before his arrival at SN1, and that’s Daniel Ballard.
The 19-year-old centre-back arrives with a glowing reference from Arsenal’s academy, as he captained the U23’s side to the FA Youth Cup Final in 2018 before their losing effort in the final to Chelsea over two legs.
He’s also played regular international football for Northern Ireland over various age ranges, and has also been involved in Michael O’Neill’s first-team set-up, and hasn’t looked out of place despite his young age.
It wouldn’t surprise many to see the defender make his full international debut at some point this season.
Out of all the signings we’ve seen arrive at the County Ground this summer, I’m most intrigued by how Ballard settles into regular League Two football.
If he can find his feet quickly we would have found the talented centre-back we’ve been crying out for over the past couple of years, and along with Dion Conroy and Mathieu Baudry (depending on formation) could become a key part of that stable defensive unit Town needs to achieve anything this season.