After impressing in his first match on his return to Haverhill Rovers, Luke Haines has earned praise from his manager Michael Shinn.
The creative midfielder had been a bit-part player for Rovers under previous manager Dean Greygoose, making two appearances from the bench before moving on to West Wratting in the Kershaw Premier League.
Shinn offered Haines another crack at the New Croft and he duly made his first start for the team in their 1-1 draw at home to Swaffham Town on Saturday, hitting the post and earning many plaudits for his overall showing.
Shinn, whose side is undefeated in five league games, said: “He is a player that covers a lot of ground in the middle of the park and his range of passing is very good.
“Haines gives us that little bit extra in terms of his range of passing and he can open things up a little bit further up the field.
“There will be games where we need to set up a little bit more defensively and he perhaps doesn’t fit into that, but he was excellent on Saturday and maybe a few eyebrows were raised.”
Haines’ arrival has come at a good time, with Rovers having lost four players from the squad that began the season. Ryan Swallow and Charlie Sigler have both switched to Haverhill Borough, while Ross Elkins has joined Halstead Town. In all three cases, Shinn said the players wanted to seek more regular first team football, something the player-manager said he understood.
Another player to have left is combative defender/midfielder Ricky Spriggs, who only joined Rovers in the summer after leaving Heybridge Swifts.
Spriggs was told by Shinn he had no future at the club after receiving his second straight red card in three games in Rovers’ 4-1 defeat at Norwich United - the first had come 34 minutes into Rovers 6-1 defeat at Stanway Rovers.
His dismissal at Norwich, earning the red card and conceding a penalty in the process that put Norwich 2-1 up, was the final straw for Shinn.
He said: “I just felt he had to go because everyone works really hard for each other and we can’t have one player letting them down.”
Shinn has also put in a seven-day approach to a Ryman Division One club for a full back/midfielder he has played alongside and feels would serve the team well.
The outcome of the approach is not going to be known before Saturday’s league trip to third placed Felixstowe & Walton United.
The game is a tough challenge for Rovers, but Shinn feels the team is moving in the right direction.
He said: “The run of results we’ve had in recent weeks shows we are going somewhere now after the difficult start we had.”
n Haverhill Borough are in First Division action on Saturday, at home to March Town United (3pm).