Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by CLIVE YOULTON clive.youlton@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @TMSClive

BOSS Bobby Wilkinson has com­pleted Weald­stone’s sum­mer trans­fer busi­ness by scoop­ing up a mar­quee sign­ing from Reading.

At­tack­ing full-back Jake Shep­pard, 21, was with the Stones last sea­son for the fi­nal 12 games, on loan from the Cham­pi­onship out­fit, and Wilkinson has pulled off a re­mark­able coup by per­suad­ing the young­ster to sign for the club on a per­ma­nent ba­sis, with a view to help­ing him progress his ca­reer as he looks to play at a higher level.

“I never thought we’d get him but we are de­lighted,” said Wilkinson. “He’s well thought of at Reading and there’s a lot of in­ter­est in him so it’s great for us. He is quick and pow­er­ful and did well for us last sea­son.

“We wanted to com­plete our busi­ness early and we’ve done that. We signed 13 play­ers on one day and brought in four hun­gry youngsters who want to be suc­cess­ful with Weald­stone Foot­ball Club.

“I only want play­ers who are com­mit­ted. Any­body who wanted to wait around for a bet­ter deal and an ex­tra £60 some­where else I wasn’t in­ter­ested in. I don’t wait for any­one.

“That way I know I have got the right play­ers.

“I must say the man­age­ment team I have got have been first class. They have been work­ing around the clock to make sure we have put to­gether a young, hun­gry squad and the prepa­ra­tion has been ex­cel­lent.”

Am­bi­tious Wilkinson said he would like to progress next sea­son, as he has done at ev­ery stage of his ca­reer, no­tably with Hunger­ford.

Stones fin­ished 11th and were still in the hunt for a play-off spot two weeks to­wards the end of the sea­son, while they fa­mously reached the FA Tro­phy semi-fi­nal be­fore bow­ing out to even­tual winners, Brack­ley.

“I’m not one to make pre­dic­tions,” he said. “Yes we’d like to progress but when peo­ple ask me what the aim is for next sea­son I say it’s to win the first game. Then to win the sec­ond game. I’m not go­ing to say we’ll reach the play-offs. Other man­agers do that and when it doesn’t hap­pen they get shot down. We will just fo­cus on what is in front of us.”

Weald­stone are a huge non-league club but Wilkinson, when asked whether they were equipped for the Na­tional League, said: “It’s a big step. Ev­ery­body knows we are a big non­league club, but the way I look at it is let’s just deal with things when and if they hap­pen. If we were to reach the Na­tional League then we would deal with it then.

“For now, we will con­cen­trate on the prepa­ra­tion for next sea­son and do all we can to make it a suc­cess­ful one.

“We have some good pre-sea­son friendlies to look for­ward to. It’s an ex­cit­ing time.”

Mean­while, Weald­stone have picked up the Na­tional League Pro­gramme of the Year award for 2017/18.

“It’s a great credit to every­one at the club who has been in­volved,” added Wilkinson.

“It’s a great pro­gramme.”

Jake Shep­pard in ac­tion for Reading

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