Celtic goalkeeping spot in far from safe hands

TWO months into their Northern Premier League campaign and Stalybridge Celtic have, remarkably, already used six goalkeepers.

A knee injury to summer signing Grant Shenton has forced manager Simon Haworth to bring in a succession of stand ins.

Will Huffer was the sixth player to feature between the posts in the home defeat to Bamber Bridge.

Huffer, 22, arrived at Bower Fold with an impressive CV which includes one first-team appearance for Leeds United in the Championship, a 2-0 win against Bristol City.

Since leaving Leeds in the summer of 2020, the 6ft 4in Huffer, capped eight times by England at Under-17 and U18 level, has had spells with Bradford Park Avenue and Bradford City.

New goalkeeper Jahquil Hill, Photo thanks to Phillip Smith Photography

Huffer took over from Bermuda international Jahquil Hill, who played in the two previous matches against Grantham and Warrington Town and who remains at Bower Fold.

Hill, 24, plays for Bermudan club Robin Hood, but had a two-year scholarship with Mansfield Town and has since had spells at Ilkeston, two spells at Stafford Rangers, Rushall Olympic and Hereford.

The keeper before Hill was Accrington Stanley’s Liam Isherwood who made three appearances before his loan was cut short following an administrative mix-up.

Isherwood, 19, was initially signed for 28 days but that was extended for a second month to November 6 after he featured in wins against FC United, Whitby Town and Stafford Rangers.

Will Huffer. Photo thanks to Phillip Smith Photography

He returned to Stanley briefly and was in their matchday squad for the 5-0 home win against Leicester City Under-23s.

After receiving approval from the Football Association, the English Football League informed the club that their rules state a player cannot return to a parent club for a Papa John’s Trophy fixture and then subsequently return to their loan club.

The information surrounding this rule was last issued by the English Football League in September 2020 and was not done so again ahead of the 2021-22 season and Celtic said it was a misunderstanding which was not anybody’s fault.

Before Isherwood, Celtic had another goalkeeper on loan from Stanley, youth team player Louis Hood who made five appearances.

The first of the stand-in keepers was Huddersfield Town’s Giosue Bellagambi who made only one appearance.

• Haworth continues to rejig his squad which has already seen 33 players feature in matchday squads since the season kicked off in mid-August.

Marcus Dackers has extended loan stay. Photo thanks to Phillip Smith Photography

The most recent signing has been Josh Dawodu, 21, a right back on a 28-day loan from Sheffield Wednesday.

Dawodu, a regular in the U23s, has been with the Owls since 2017 after making the move from Arsenal where he had spent most of his youth career.

Dawodu has been a regular presence in Sheffield Wednesday’s Under 23 side and has trained regularly with the first team.

Celtics had earlier added to their firepower with the loan signings for strikers Marcus Dackers and Jake Burton.

Dackers, who arrived from Salford City for an initial one month in which he scored five goals and provided two assists, has been allowed to stay for a second month which got off to a flyer with two further strikes in the 3-1 win at Mickleover on Saturday, October 23.

The 18-year-old spent six years at Brighton & Hove Albion having earlier spent time at Manchester City’s youth academy.

Dackers, who has featured for Wales U17s, has had a loan spell with Lancing FC in the Isthmian League.

Burton, 19, meanwhile, arrived from Tranmere Rovers for whom he has made four first-team appearances. He, too, has extended his loan for a second month.

Dutch winger Justin Johnson, who arrived in September, has signed a contract for the remainder of the season.

Johnson, 25, began his football career at Sparta Rotterdam before joining Manchester United’s academy. He then signed professional terms with Dundee United making five appearances for the club.

Goalkeeper Will Huffer. Photo thanks to Phillip Smith Photography

A loan spell with York City was followed by two years in Cyprus playing for Othellos Athienou and Akritas Cholorakas.

A return to Scotland in 2020 saw Johnson join Hamilton Academical before last season playing for Greenock Morton.

Leaving Celtic is defender Luke Barlow who has signed for Northern Premier League club Ramsbottom United.

• Former assistant manager Ian Johnson, who recently quit Celtic, is back in football in a scouting capacity for NPL club Marine.

Johnson confirmed he left Celtic because he was no longer enjoying the job.

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