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Story posted: Tuesday, 11th July 2006

Trio sign
Tommy Whittle

Tommy Whittle

Goalkeeper Tommy Whittle has signed and manager Gary Norton is delighted.
Whittle spent the latter part of the 2005-2006 campaign at the Moat Ground, but Norton knew he had a fight on his hands to win the 23-year-old's signature.

Norton said: "I am delighted that Tommy has signed — and I am sure the fans will be too. It is a massive boost for the club. Conference North outfit Hucknall Town were interested in him so it's great that he's signed for us.

"If he had been with us for the whole of last season, I believe we would have made up the six points we needed for automatic promotion.

"So this was an unexpected present for me, as I had expected it to drag on into the summer.

"When Tommy joined us from Hednesford — via Ilkeston Town — on a short-term basis last season, he was keen to play at the highest level possible and I told him it was a chance to put himself in the shop window, and expected him to move to a higher division, so I'm very pleased that he's chosen to stay with us.

"If I was nervous about any position, it was that one. James Pemberton is still recovering after undergoing knee surgery and Gavin Saxby has left the club.

"Gavin had an up-and-down season and James has only just resumed training after a knee operation. He had to pull out of training last week as he was still feeling some pain, so I am not sure what state he will be in for the start of the season.

"We have got two keepers on trial and we will make a decision on that a little bit later."

As well as Whittle signing this week, new deals have been agreed with Jamie Barrett and Steve Gomm — meaning that all of Rovers' first-team squad have pledged their future to the club with the exception of star striker Aaron O'Connor and defender Allan Davies.

O'Connor is currently on trial with Conference newcomers Rushden & Diamonds, while Davies is considering his options due to work commitments.

Said Norton: "Allan is working in Cardiff and is unsure whether he will be moving there on a permanent basis so he is still undecided. He has done a bit of training but we are leaving it up to him. In the meantime, we are looking at possible replacements.

"As for Aaron, I have spoken to him a couple of times and exchanged a few text messages. It sounds like they are doing an obscene amount of running at the moment, but he is very much enjoying himself. He has been made to feel very welcome and is looking forward to playing in two trial games next week."

Should O'Connor leave the Moat Ground, a possible replacement could be young striker Richard Lonsdale, who has been training with Rovers after being released by League Two side Mansfield Town.

Norton said: "Richard has looked sharp in training and is probably the fittest out of all the lads. We will continue to have a look at him and if he cuts the mustard, we will offer him something."
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  Team P GD Pts
12 Peterborough Sports 42 -8 51
13 Spalding United 42 -10 50
14 Loughborough Dynamo 42 -17 49
15 Sheffield FC 42 -19 45
16 Belper Town 42 -44 45
17 Gresley 42 -42 43
18 Kidsgrove Athletic 42 -20 42
19 Carlton Town 42 -10 41
20 Newcastle Town 42 -24 39
21 Market Drayton Town 42 -46 39
22 Romulus 42 -37 35

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