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Where do Posh Stand?

Thursday 5th July 2012
As all clubs do in the summer, Peterborough United have looked at the squad and identified where improvement is needed – but what should fans expect?

Manager Darren Ferguson immediately identified who he felt was no longer needed as soon as the season finished. This included the surprise inclusion of captain Grant McCann on the transfer-list, a decision that left the majority of Posh fans shocked.

Whilst it's no secret that McCann failed to reproduce his form from the first-half of the season after coming back from injury, many hope the Northern Ireland international can convince Ferguson that he still has a part to play – McCann was given fresh hope of staying at Posh after retaining the number 11 shirt when the squad numbers were released on Monday (2 July).

Another noteworthy inclusion in the squad numbers was George Boyd staying at number 10. It was announced that Boyd had decided not to extend his contract at London Road, meaning that this coming season would be the last year of his current deal. Boyd was also included on the transfer-list due to his reluctance to sign a new deal, but maybe this is a sign that the wide-man dubbed ‘The White Pele' is yet to play his last game for Posh, especially with other transfer-listed players losing their squad numbers (including Mark Little and David Ball).

New Signings

Posh have added to the ranks (bringing in four players as of writing) ; defender Nathaniel Knight-Percival from Wrexham, youth striker Jonson Clarke-Harris following his release from Coventry City, highly-rated ‘keeper Bobby Olejnik from Torquay United and attacking midfielder Danny Swanson after his contract expired with Dundee United.

Nathaniel Knight-Percival

Knight-Percival, 25, originally played as a left-winger for Histon for five seasons before joining Wrexham in 2010 where he was converted into a centre-back. He has over 200 first-team appearances to his name, but is yet to make his Football League debut.

Knight-Percival is Darren Ferguson's first summer acquisition after signing the former Wrexham man on a pre-contract back in January following a string of impressive performances. His signing brings much needed cover at the back where, since the departure of Ryan Bennett, Posh had been left with only two recognised centre-backs in Gabriel Zakuani and Shaun Brisley.

Jonson Clarke-Harris

In June, Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony tweeted that Posh had signed a young goal-machine. At the time, his name wasn't announced due to contractual reasons and was to be officially named in July. Clarke-Harris, 17, was released by Coventry after this past season without any official word as to why – Andy Thorn hinted at disciplinary problems.

Clarke-Harris made his professional debut in a League Cup tie against Morecambe for Coventry, a match that Morecambe won 2-0, on 10 August 2010 – this saw Clarke-Harris become youngest ever play to appear for Coventry's first team, aged 16 years and 21 days. MacAnthony has said that Clarke-Harris is one for the future, but that could all change, dependent on how he fairs during the pre-season training camp in Portugal.

Bobby Olejnik

Following both Paul Jones and Joe Lewis leaving the club, a new goalkeeper was a necessity, and Bobby Olejnik, 25, was Darren Ferguson's number one target. Formerly on the books at Aston Villa, Olejnik made a name for himself in Scotland playing for Falkirk. During his time at Falkirk, Olejnik earned 13 Austrian Under-21 caps.

Last summer, Olejnik made the move back to England to play for Torquay United after his contract with Falkirk ran out. Following a record-breaking season at Plainmoor, notching up 20 clean-sheets in 46 league appearances, he was picked for the PFA League 2 Team of The Year. It's no wonder why Posh found it no problem to part with £300,000 for the Austrian's services.

There has always been massive dispute over the goalkeeping position at London Road, particularly in the last few seasons – but Olejnik has professed to loving the challenge of coming out for crosses, describing the feeling the same as scoring a goal. Judging by his big 6ft 2in frame, there won't be many strikers willing to get in his way.

Danny Swanson

There has been huge excitement over the signing of Danny Swanson, 25, after beating a host of other clubs chasing the attacking midfielder's signature. Swanson, although a fan-favourite at Tannadice, suffered from injury problems, most notably a strained medial ligament that forced him to pull out of Craig Levein's Scotland squad in October 2011.

Many of Swanson's appearances for Dundee United came from the substitutes' bench (60 from 108 League appearances) – but he comes with much admiration from those that have seen him play, stating that, had he not had the previous injury problems, he could have played for either Celtic or Rangers. Swanson believes that his injury problems are behind him, and Ferguson believes that Posh have signed an exciting player.

More Signings

As Posh fans will have already noticed, no-one has been assigned the number two or six shirts, also; 22 is still available. Much talk has been made of who will be the next signings – names like Stevanage's Lawrie Wilson, which could explain the vacant number two. Wilson, 24, can play as a right-back or in midfield – he earned much praise during Stevanage's FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur, being accredited with keeping Gareth Bale under-wraps throughout.

Posh have also been linked with other Stevenage players', Michael Bostwick and Luke Freeman. Bostwick, 24, is a decent midfielder that could almost certainly make the jump into the Championship and Freeman, 20, a winger very much of the same mould of former Stevenage and current Posh player, George Boyd.

Ferguson has confirmed that he hopes to add more to the squad before they leave for Portugal, stating that he, MacAnthony and director of football Barry Fry have been working round the clock to make things happen.

What Can Fans Expect?

There is clear desire to improve the squad from where it was last season, whilst also keeping with the transfer policy of young and hungry players that has served the club so well during the MacAnthony era. What shouldn't be forgotten though is the players' who are knocking on the door of the first-team – after all, they come back a little older and a little wiser.

These players are Joe Newell and Daniel Kearns – both have an exciting amount of potential in them and will come into this season with some experience at this level. Other names the same can be said for are Shaun Brisley who impressed so much after being thrown into the deep end of having to fill Ryan Bennett's boots; Tyrone Barnett much the same with just under half a season at this level and Craig Alcock who was outstanding last year and now has a full Championship season under his belt.

What fans shouldn't lose sight of is that, the same as last season, the main objective is to survive. Some fans have been targeting a mid-table finish, some even looking at improving on Posh's best ever season (10th place in the second-tier) – whilst it would be nice, and improvement year-on-year is definitely something that should be aimed for, anywhere above the relegation zone is good enough.

Posh stand a little bit better than where they stood this time last season. Experience runs throughout the squad (apart from the new signings), the confidence is there that Posh can compete at this level and, much like last year, almost everyone else has already written Posh off – that is a very stupid thing to do.

There is every reason to be positive, but at the same time, keep it realistic.

 
Aaron Gratton

Total articles: 16

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