STALYBRIDGE Celtic’s pursuit of a new striker has intensified following the sudden exit of summer signing Matty Hughes who had yet to make a competitive appearance for the club.
Manager Simon Haworth revealed the 29-year-old asked to leave less than one week into the new campaign to get regular first-team football.
Hughes was signed from National League North side Chester, having started his career at Everton.
He has also played for Golborne Sports, Skelmersdale United, Fleetwood Town, AFC Fylde and Chorley. Last season he was also on dual registration forms with Chester and Lancaster City.
Haworth said: “Matty has left because he wants to start games, and Scott Bakkor was ahead of him in that position.
“He asked to leave to play every game somewhere else.”
Hughes quickly found a new club, signing for Northern Premier League club Warrington Rylands, last season’s FA Vase winners.
Celtic’s major summer rebuild has yet to be completed, even though their NPL campaign is underway.
Haworth, who has signed 15 new players, still believes there are a couple of missing pieces to the jigsaw after a challenging opening.
After Celtic lost their first two games against Nantwich Town and South Shields, it was a case of third time lucky with a first league win at home to Morpeth Town on Saturday, August 21.
Reflecting on the opening week of the season, Haworth said: “There are more positives than negatives, though there I still a bit to work on.
“We need to bring in one or two more players to fine tune the team.”
Haworth explained signing another central defender and a striker are his priorities.
Celtic are light at the back with Connor O’Grady (knee) and Shane Killock (sciatica) both on the sidelines.
And veteran defender Stephen O’Halloran is finding it tough playing Saturday and Tuesday each week.
Haworth, himself a former international striker, has identified a lack of firepower as an issue, despite bringing back Scott Bakkor for a second spell and signing Jack Ryan and Sope Awe who did not feature in the matchday squad for either of the first two matches.
Haworth’s three latest additions to the squad have been goalkeeper Giosue Bellagambi, wing back Dougie Nyaupembe and midfielder Charley Doyle.
Bellagambi, 19, was signed on Tuesday on a 28-day loan from Huddersfield Town after Grant Shenton injured his knee in Saturday’s win against Morpeth Town.
He has had loan spells with National League South side Ebbsfleet United and Northern Premier League club Ramsbottom United.
Nyaupembe, 21, is no stranger at Bower Fold where he had a loan spell from Bury in 2019.
He spent six years at Bury before joining Atherton Colls in the summer of 2019 and later signed for Radcliffe in January 2020.
Nyaupembe, who can play either full back or wing back, made his senior debut for Bury in May 2018 as a substitute in a League One fixture against AFC Wimbledon.
During his first spell at Celtic, he featured in 14 games for the club.
“Dougie trained with us pre-season and is a good signing as he can provide cover on either side,” explained Haworth.
Doyle has returned after a spell at National League North side Southport did not work out.
Haworth said: “Charley wanted to try and play at a higher level which I completely understood.
“I maintained that if Charley didn’t get fixed up the door was always open for him to return as we know what he can do.”
Doyle, who signed for Celtic in September 2020 after his release by Blackburn Rovers, made 11 appearances for the club during last year’s curtailed season, scoring in games against Lancaster City and Gainsborough Trinity.
The 22-year-old spent 13 years at Ewood Park playing more than 50 times for the club’s Under-23s where he won the Premier League 2, division two title in 2019.