GORDON Bartlett will have no qualms about throwing new signing Lewis Putnam in at the deep end at Wealdstone.
The Stones boss moved this week to snap up the hotshot striker from Spartan League Oxhey Jets, where he hit an astonishing 81 goals last year, a tally which saw him attract the attention of Wycombe Wanderers where he had trials in April.
Bartlett initially suggested the 22-year-old who is stepping up two pyramid levels would learn a lot from former league strikers Chris Moore and Scott McGleish, already on staff at the Vale.
However, he insisted this week he has no intention of breaking him in gently and all places would be up for grabs when pre-season begins next week, so Putnam has every chance of displacing one of his more established team-mates.
He said: “If Lewis does well pre-season he will start the first league game. There will be no such thing as favourites or reputations, so it is up to everyone to grab a shirt.
The youngster’s phenomenal goal-scoring record will inevitably draw ‘fox in the box’ comparisons with the now retired Richard Jolly.
However, as well as being keen to take pressure off his new young charge in that regard Bartlett was at pains to point out there are few similarities between Putnam and the former stones’ legend.
“He’s a totally different player to Jolls - the only similarity is he scores goals, he said.
“He’s very quick, left-sided and about six foot two, so that’s not Richard Jolly.”
Putnam joins left-sided defender Jerome Okimo, Eddie Hutchison and goalkeeper Ben Goode in what is a reconstruction job by Bartlett on the stones squad which has lost established characters like Jolly, midfield duo Alex Dyer and Chris O’Leary, former skipper Lee Chappell and keeper Rikki Banks since losing a second successive play-off semi-final in May.
Bartlett is in talks with another midfielder to add legs to the engine room, though not Sam Corcoran who has not been back in touch since going off to travel America, while several other targets have opted for bigger money elsewhere.
To those fans tempted to complain most of the new arrivals are untested at Ryman Premier level Bartlett had this message: “Jolls was in Hayes Reserves when we signed him, Lee (Chappell) was on the fringes at Cheshunt and Chris O’Leary was at Uxbridge.
“So we are bringing in hungry players with potential which is something we have done many times over the years as we are not flushed with money.”