Johnson can be our key man - Webb
Paddy Davitt King's Lynn boss Keith Webb backs Norwich City old-boy Andy Johnson to lead the club's young brigade ahead of his Blue Square North debut today against Blyth Spartans at The Walks.
King's Lynn boss Keith Webb backs Norwich City old-boy Andy Johnson to lead the club's young brigade ahead of his Blue Square North debut today against Blyth Spartans at The Walks.
Webb guided Johnson's early Carrow Road career and the Linnets' chief is convinced the 34-year-old midfielder can inject new life into Lynn's maiden Conference campaign.
"He had one or two offers but once he knew we were interested I don't think he needed much persuading to come," said Webb. "He was my youth team captain at Norwich and in terms of being a natural leader he was the best young player I had at Norwich. Adam Smith has done an excellent job as skipper and he will keep the armband but Andy doesn't need an armband.
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"I want to build a young team for the future but within that you need experience and he can be my enforcer. He will lead by example. He can bawl. He can shout. He knows the game and you can see that with the career he has had. People know I'm actively looking for a striker but when the opportunity comes along to get someone like him on board you have to grab it."
Webb admitted Johnson was an unexpected bonus on a midweek scouting mission at Blue Square Premier Kidderminster.
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"I was surprised to see him even playing there in a trial match to be honest," he said. "I went away without actually speaking to him but I mentioned it to the chairman and told him he was still doing the things that he was at Norwich and when I last saw him play at West Brom. I left it with the chairman who spoke to him on Thursday and they sorted out the bits and pieces. He is one of those players a manager always looks for - he can tackle, he can pass, he can bully at times if he has to. He is a born warrior."
Webb is also confident Johnson can handle the switch to part-time football after a long professional career in the top two divisions of English football.
"He knows the situation and he is aware of what that entails so I don't see it being a problem," said Webb. "He is good enough to get on and deal with that. I still believe he can get himself fitter but even though he needs games to build up his match sharpness the people of King's Lynn will see his quality. I don't think as a group we are that far away and I hope he can be the catalyst."
Southern League title winning midfielder Ben Sedgemore's release was confirmed hours before Johnson's high profile arrival.
"I spoke to Ben and explained the situation," said Webb. "To be fair he admitted he hasn't been the player he was last season and when Andy became available then we had to let him go. It would have been difficult for him to force his way back into the team and he understood that. His attitude has always been first class and we wish him all the best in the future."
Sedgemore joins defender Simon Weaver in leaving the club this week.
Keeper Scott Howie (groin) faces a late fitness test after missing last weekend's draw at Farsley Celtic. Striker Jack Defty returns after serving a one match ban. Young forward Dominic Dwyer is back on reserve team duty.
"Scott is not 100pc fit but I'll have no qualms keeping Rob Murray in," said Webb. "Mark Peters has trained this week but I'm not going to take any risks with an ankle injury. With Andy coming it there will be a lot of attention focussed on him but we just need to start winning games now. We won 4-2 at their place after they were 2-0 up so I guess they might still be smarting from that, but this is a different game with different circumstances."
Blyth bid to end a wretched winless away league run this season but Harry Dunn's men have notched back-to-back home victories since Spartans' televised FA Cup third round exit against Blackburn.
"Winning our last two home games without conceding is exactly we needed after our FA Cup run," he said. "It would be good to come away from our longest trip of the season with three points. Our away form has been terrible, but I've strengthened the squad of late in midfield. Hopefully we'll start to pick up points away from the North East."