JON McCARTHY has asked Chester supporters not to expect too much too soon from summer signing Ross Hannah.
The 31-year-old striker, who re-joined the Blues on a two-year-deal from Barrow, has only managed 40 minutes of pre-season action so far at Runcorn Town, where he limped off with a calf injury which the forward continues to recover from, and could be involved against Port Vale on Saturday (3pm).
Hannah bagged 26 goals for Chester in the 2015/16 season but first-team boss McCarthy has asked for Blues’ fans to show patience with the Sheffield-born striker, with match fitness not guaranteed ahead of the National League opener at Solihull Moors on August 5.
However, McCarthy believes the attacking threat posed by Harry White, James Akintunde and Nyal Bell can more than compensate in Hannah’s absence.
“Ross has done some work here, we’re not hiding him away, he was out doing his work on the pitch before the game,” he said.
“Ross doesn’t need to learn the game like a Nyal Bell does, he just needs to be fit and sharp.
“We might have a situation, the last time he came he’d been at Grimsby and hadn’t played many minutes and it took him a while to get going.
“He didn’t score 22 goals in the first 10 games, it took him a while to get that because he needed the minutes and it’s a similar situation. He’s been at Barrow and his goal ratio is always good.
“Harry White’s goal ratio is one in three, Akintunde always offers for us, Nyal Bell hasn’t played many games for us and then we’ve got Ross who scores one in two and that pans out if you do the stats.
“There’s enough goals there in my squad. I know how important that is and I think we’ve done it right.”
Craig Mahon captained the Blues line-up in their 2-1 friendly defeat against Walsall last weekend, and McCarthy is delighted to have the Irish winger back in his plans having fully recovered from a hip injury which forced him out for the final two months of last season.
“Mahon is fit and right and we’re just doing things properly,” he added.
“We know what to do, he’s been wanting to play more games for the last couple of weeks but no, we stick with the programme, we speak to the doctors and there’s 45 minutes for him.
“We see what he offers, what he can give, now he’s got two weeks to train all week, to play next Saturday, to train all the next week and that’ll give him that extra sharpness and the key to his game.
“You know what a miss he was for us last season and what a key player he was for us so let’s hope Craig comes through the next two weeks and he’ll be very important to us next season.”
The Blues continue to work on a deal to sign a second goalkeeper to provide competition for regular number one Alex Lynch, with several trialist keepers having been looked at in pre-season.
Former Harrogate Town stopper Peter Crook looks the likeliest candidate to win himself a permanent deal with the Blues although McCarthy admits the club may have to dip into the loan market.
“We’ve seen another two goalkeepers and there was another two last week,” he added.
"There’s other stuff going on and Dave Felgate is working hard on that situation, and of course we’re very happy with Alex Lynch.
“There’s bits of our squad which will be a bit thinner, but people understand that given our financial resources.
“I think everyone is quite happy with how we’ve gone about things and what we’ve assembled.
“There’s the loan market now which we look at and try to strengthen, it’s not as easy at this time of season though.
“All the under 23 players are coming back in to their squads but we’re working hard to sort something.
“Alex picked up a knock at Altrincham so we took him off early and it gave us an opportunity to have another look at Peter Crook who played for us (at Witton), it gave us a chance to do that and it’s to protect Alex as well.”
See full story in the Chester Leader