The forgotten men

Last updated : 21 September 2005 By Rob Davies
With the Transfer Window coming into effect at League Two level this season, it meant manager's just like Notts County's Gudjon Thordarson were forced to take out an Insurance policy - to put together a squad that could, if required, get them through the entire season.

Thordarson (left), somehow, managed to get together a squad of 26 players to begin his League Two campaign. As impressive as this looked on paper, what this would mean was that the Icelandic boss was always going to have upset a number of his squad.

After three seasons of an 'if you're fit, you're in the squad' policy, that a number of first-team squad members have yet to even see the light of the bench is something of a fresh concept here at the Lane.

In fact, a grand total of NINE members of Thordarson's squad have yet to play a single minute of first-team football this season. The 50-year-old County manager's early success has coincided with a distinct lack of injuries and suspensions to contend with, which has meant him using just 17 players thus far in the campaign.

Of the Forgotten men, one or two may have expected to play little more than a cameo role this campaign, but, for others, the frustration in not featuring for the senior squad has been obvious.

The Forgotten Men

Chibusa Chilaka: - Nigerian-born midfielder Chilaka is one such player who won't be too worried at his lack of first-team involvement so far. The 18-year-old has already impressed Thordarson - signing his first ever one-year professional contract this summer - and will no doubt receive his chance at some during the campaign.

Though yet to feature in a match-day squad of 16, the powerful midfielder has impressed in reserve outings and has been named in a number of Thor's preliminary squad's of 18.

Saul Deeney:
- Yes, the young Irish goalkeeper (right) is still on the payroll at Meadow Lane, residing on the same week-to-week deal that he's been on ever since he turned down a fresh two-year deal in the summer.

The stopper has been on-trial at a number of clubs and has recently featured in two matches for Sheffield Utd's third Xl. Though Deeney has long been admired by the Blades, former Notts boss Neil Warnock has publicly admitted that, if Deeney were to sign, the stopper would only be third-choice at Bramall Lane.

The saga rumbles on, with both Notts and the player unlikely to now have an outcome of which they're to gain too much satisfaction.

Emmet Friars: - The young defender is currently on-loan at Unibond League outfit AFC Telford, having struggled to establish himself even as reserve for a fast-establishing back four.

However, Thordarson has gone to great lengths to stress that Friars' Meadow Lane career is not over, with the Northern Irishman gaining rave reviews in his early showings for the part-timers.

Shaun Marshall: - The former Cambridge goalkeeper was brought in as a replacement for Deeney on transfer deadline-day. He has been on the bench, acting as understudy for Kevin Pilkington, every game since arriving.

Shane McFaul: - Out of all the exiles, McFaul's name is one of the most disappointing. Despite being aged just 19, the Irishman has been on the fringes of the Notts County first-team for over two seasons.

However, he hasn't even made the bench for any of this season's matches, with his versatility becoming more of a hinderence than a help. It seems, after a season of playing right back, centre back and central midfield, that no-one seems to quite know where to play him.

With a three-month loan to an Irish Premier League side falling through, the homesick youngster seems destined to spend a little more time on the Meadow Lane sidelines for the time being.

Tony Scully: - Despite losing a stone in weight over pre-season, the winger was still told by Thordarson upon the season's opening that he did not figure in his plans.

Currently on a month's loan at Exeter City, the Irishman has impressed and hopes to extend his spell at the Conference league leader's.

Coach Whitlow
Mike Whitlow:
- Rightly lauded for his willingness to take a paycut for the good of the club, honest Whitlow admits he is now only registered as a player 'in case of emergency'.

The defender will remain as a coach at Meadow Lane until the end of next season, at least.

Matty Williams: - Along with Scully, the nippy forward was told by Thordarson that he had no future at the club in early August. Though he possesses the natural ability to play at a higher level, the Magpies boss has shown no sign on going back on his word, with the unlucky Williams not named in any of the preliminary match-day squads.

The 22-year-old has shown enough to suggest he could still be an asset for any team in the lower leagues.

Ruben Zadkovich: - Perhaps the most surprising of the absentees, Zadkovich can count himself unlucky not to have seen any footballing action after impressing during the latter months of the last campaign.

Like Scully and Williams, the midfielder has perhaps suffered somewhat for Thor's obvious dislike of flair players - though the 19-year-old still holds out some hope, after being an unused substitute in three of this season's matches.

By his own admission, Zadkovich's confidence can often be mistaken for arrogance - something that has not sat well with the disciplinarian pairing of Thordarson and assistant Ross MacLaren - though the Australian can expect to feature in a senior match within the next month.

For further analysis of the Notts County playing squad, stay tuned to NCM.