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Hudson Bay

No, I wasn’t going to use the title of “Rock Hudson”…

For those curious, we’ve completed the loan signing of Kirk Hudson from – where else? – Brentford. Wonder if the Bees have a Tesco Clubcard style reward scheme where for every fifth ex-Brentford player we sign we get one in free? Either that or free use of Griffin Park in case we are double booked at Kingsmeadow.

Anyway, what boxes does Rock (see, he’s already got a nickname) tick? Obviously, him being ex-Brentford is the most important reason for us signing him. He’s a winger, on the right, he’s 24 and he was signed from Aldershot in the summer. So if nothing else TB does know something about him.

It also appears he needs games, as Brentford fans are suggesting. Now, he’s on loan with us until the end of the season, so at least we’ve got bodies on the bench at a time when we need them. Lest we forget that we had three subs for Eastbourne, and we got lucky that it wasn’t an issue.  We have at least 22 games still remaining, probably more with the rearrangements and FAT run, and we’ll require a big squad.

We’re about to find out just why you need a squad of 25 now. Rock’s signing means we don’t have to rely on Jackson, who is in danger of blowing himself out. Remember, he’s still a youngster, and we have probably used him more than we were ever planning to. If he (RJ) was to start every game in January, he could be gone for the rest of the season in one way, shape or form.

Which is why the mistakes we made last year with loanees weren’t so much us making them, as putting in the wrong ones with the wrong setup. Ironically, if we were to get in Nathan Elder and co this time round, they would find it easier to settle in – we’re full time these days, and we’re not asking the loanees to sit on their arse the rest of the week and turn up on Tuesday evenings (which is exactly what was happening last year).

I’d like to think that our scouting this season has improved, and when we do make a signing he fits right in. Time will tell whether Rock does, although don’t forget that the last loanee to have a blinding debut was Mr N Elder himself…

This being January, it’s unlikely it will just be Rock coming in. We’re also linked with Aldershot’s Danny Hylton, and who knows who else is on TB’s list? Assuming Hylton signs, and we get 2/3 more loans in, it will bring our squad size up to around 25. Yes, the OS states we have a few more than that, but a lot of those aren’t going to be in the first team this season anyway.

Twenty five may sound a lot, but it isn’t. Take the usual 11 players, plus five subs, and that’s well over half your squad occupied. Add in the inevitable suspensions, injuries and “restings” and there will only be a couple of players each game who sit in the stand. Assuming of course, they’re not put out on-loan to Basingstoke.

Our squad size will now be boosted up to the size it should be. It’s easy to get carried away with Eastbourne, and convince ourselves that it was how we’ve played throughout the whole season. We haven’t. At times, we’ve looked quite nervous, other times we’ve been horseshit. And before the enforced break we were very tired looking, lest we forget.

If we do hold off the challenge of Crawley, with their transfer budget akin to the GDP of a small South American country, and Luton and end up in League Two next season, it will be in no small part to remaining fresh and on form when it mattered most. Anyone who doubts bringing in people should cast their minds back to the Conf South run-in. For a lot of the time, we were running on empty, and us going up was as much down to the Footballing Gods smiling on us as much as judgement.

There are other issues though. Is our transfer budget stretched to the limit already? Can we afford to do this? Can we afford not to? If you left it to the accountants, we shouldn’t try to go up because it will cost too much to get KM up to League standard. Best we should do is try to win the FAT and get through to the playoff final at the Council House etc etc to get some more money in.

But since when did accountants have a soul? It’s a nice feeling to be top. And there’s no reason at all for us to deliberately hold fire on at least trying to go up. Last year, we weren’t ready to push for promotion, and our results from January 2010 onwards showed it. Fast forward 12 months, and I think we are. Whether we ultimately succeed remains to be seen, but once again the word “consolidation” remains absent from the AFCW vocabulary.

We’ve made the transition to being full time a lot better than many suspected, which has been a massive help in where we are right now. Your editor covered Wycombe against Hereford on Boxing Day, and while we would need to make some hard choices personnel-wise, we’d survive in mid-table reasonably comfortably.

As for budgets etc, I look at it this way : we’ve never had to sell players since 2002. That may change by this time next month of course, but that’s usually a sign of how your budget is shaping up. A school of thought suggests that our budgets are set deliberately low, so if we needed to make a signing we could do it.

We are still an importer of players rather than an exporter. Those who do go out are on loan anyway, although we’ve yet to have an apparent £250k bid for Danny Kedwell (which is what Richard Brodie cost, and by the sounds of it York needed the money). We may not be the biggest spenders, but nobody seems that worried.

Anyway, we may see Rock tomorrow, we might not. With luck we don’t repeat what we did on New Year’s Day in 2010 for tomorrow. Now, that was an omen…