PAUL SMITH says the exit of star performer Ahmed Ali and a three-month absence of Chris Conway will force Bromsgrove Sporting into the transfer market.
Smith insists he has built the strongest squad he has ever built in his years as manager, with Sporting’s unbeaten 11-game start to the top of the Midland League Division One proving the point.
But Smith is preparing to add to his ranks after midfielder Ali switched to neighbours Redditch United and striker Conway faces a 12-week lay-off for a Sunday football ban, starting next week.
He revealed he has already targeted three players and will be able to open talks ahead of their home game with Atherstone Town tomorrow (Saturday).
“The squad is the strongest I’ve put together at any level of football but having lost Ahmed and Chris I need to bring in a few additions,” said Smith.
“I’ve put in two or three seven-day approaches. None of the clubs have waived them so I’ve had to wait until the end of the week to speak to the players and see if they want to join us.”
Smith admitted Somalia international Ali will be a big loss after the 27-year-old has been such an influential figure since joining in the summer, but he accepted Redditch who offered him higher level football.
“Ahmed has been our standout player this season,” said the Rouslers boss. “He has got the chance to play three levels higher with Redditch, and simply, it was too good an offer for him to turn down.
“We’ve got competition in midfield with Keenen Meakin-Richards, Nathan Walker, Robbie Bunn, Sam Wills and Reece Hewitt and now it’s their chance to step up.
“With Chris, he is going to be out for a minimum of 12 games for his Sunday side which takes us into February, possibly more if it’s a bad winter and they get games called off. It’s frustrating because we are the innocent parties – it’s a Sunday football punishment but it also affects us.”
Smith, though, was delighted with how the Rouslers delivered last weekend when they claimed a 1-0 win at title rivals Lichfield City. Jason Cowley’s goal meant Sporting moved four points clear of Leicester Road, Lichfield and Atherstone.
“It was a thoroughly professional performance,” said Smith. “It had me purring. We faced real tests against three title rivals in Hinckley, Nuneaton Griff and Lichfield and we’ve taken nine points.
“I couldn’t have wished for a much better start and I do believe we will get better. But none of us are getting carried away.”
Tuesday’s performance in defeating Knowle in the Smedley Crooke Memorial Charity Cup didn’t reach those standards but Smith took the opportunity to make eight changes. A goal from Conway was enough for the Rouslers.
Meanwhile, Sporting will be looking for a new assistant boss to work alongside Smith and Brendan Kelly after Adam Cunningham stepped down.
Smith said the travelling with his business commitments had made it increasingly difficult for Cunningham.