• Nathan Smith

FOUR POSITIONS EXETER CITY NEED TO STRENGTHEN THIS SUMMER


Following their long-awaited promotion to League One last season, Exeter City will be looking to make their stay in England's third tier last more than a season.


However, the Grecians are yet to make a signing, having lost out on 'main target' George Miller to recently relegated Doncaster, and possibly missing out on more targets, although that isn't confirmed.


Exeter's modest budget and sustainable way of business means that they often have to wait later than other teams to strengthen their team, but here are four positions that we feel Matt Taylor needs to target for the upcoming season...


GOALKEEPER


Manager Matt Taylor has stated that a lot of the Grecians transfer business will be in the loan market and there is no position where he has successfully found good players on loan more than in goal. Jokull Andresson and Cameron Dawson have both had great temporary spells at St James Park, and Taylor will need to strike gold once again this season.


With 37-year-old goalkeeping coach Scott Brown currently first choice, it is clear that Exeter need to find someone between the sticks to replace the impact that Dawson had last season.


There is a chance for Andresson to make his return to the club, but a previous poor spell with Morecambe might not encourage Taylor to make that move.


Early rumours linked the club with Nathan Bishop, who was excellent at Mansfield last season, but interest from teams like Wycombe may lead to Manchester United sending their youngster elsewhere.


A return to Exeter for Ben Hamer seems practically impossible, but the club could consider the likes of Connal Trueman or Jamal Blackman to join the Grecians.


However, a loan seems the most likely option, and just like last season, fans may have to be patient to find out who will be Exeter's number one next season.


LEFT WING-BACK


Jake Caprice did a good job coming into the side at left wing-back last season, but his reliance on his right foot means that Taylor should look elsewhere for someone to compete with Jack Sparkes for that starting role, while Caprice moves back across to the right.


The importance of Josh Key on the right side highlights how integral wing-backs are in Exeter's 3-4-1-2 system and towards the end of the season, the Grecians became quite reliant on Key for most of their attacks.


Sparkes is a solid player, and someone that can certainly be relied upon, but this will be his first season at League One level, and it is uncertain whether he will be able to establish himself as a starter at this level.


Once again, a loan is more likely and that would take time, as managers figure out which players they do or do not fancy for the upcoming season.


One possible loan option is Peterborough's Joe Tomlinson, who impressed at Swindon last season, but if Exeter were to look for a more permanent option, Brandon Mason or Myles Kenlock could be worth a look into.


CENTRAL MIDFIELDER


Archie Collins and Tim Dieng established themselves as the go-to midfield partnership for Exeter last season, but beyond them, they are not that many options.


Kyle Taylor is out injured until January at best, Nigel Atangana has been released, as has Callum Rowe, leaving just Harry Kite to deputise for the two.


While it may be hard to take the first team spot away from Collins or Dieng just yet, it wouldn't be unfair to say that Exeter are perhaps lacking a defensive minded midfielder, with Collins often playing that role, although you could argue that does not necessarily utilise all his strengths.


Jamie Hanson, formerly of Oxford United, could be an interesting option in midfield, while fellow free agents Jacob Davenport and Dylan McGeouch may be out of budget for the Grecians, although both could be worth a look into.

Finn Azaz, who enjoyed a terrific loan spell at Newport County, would be a brilliant loan addition, although he is a more forward thinking midfielder.


While a loan is once again most likely, some League One experience in the middle of the park, could be important, especially if Dieng finds himself injured or suspended at points during the season.



STRIKER


Sam Nombe has been a fantastic acquisition for Matt Taylor's Exeter side, and his impact on the team when fit is clear to see.


However, the electric striker has struggled with a hamstring injury since arriving at the club, which has forced him to miss almost half the season in two separate spells.


While Jevani Brown will continue in his false 9 type role in front of captain Matt Jay, another striking option is sorely needed if Nombe was to find himself on the treatment table.


The club probably need two players to come in, with young prospect Sonny Cox more than likely heading out for another loan spell, having impressed at Weston-Super-Mare last season.


We would expect at least one of those to be a loanee and for that it is hard to know which players will find themselves on the loan market for this season.


If Exeter were looking to add a permanent option to their front-line, the idea of James Norwood returning to Exeter City may sound enticing, or formerly linked striker Marc McNulty may be an option.


But following the success of Sam Nombe, it would be no surprise if Exeter looked for a player of a similar profile and stature for a small fee.