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Diary: Scope for summer improvement

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In our latest diary, Chris Sumpter believes there is scope for improvement during the transfer window, but doesn’t envisage it being a particularly busy summer at Glanford Park.

I read with some surprise on Tuesday that Scunthorpe United had reportedly had a bid for Blackpool’s Brad Potts rebuffed.

The consternation came not so much about the player in question – though I’d debate whether a bustling, box-to-box midfielder should be a priority for boss Graham Alexander this summer. Nope, it was solely centred on the fact that it’s taken this long for the first bit of Iron transfer talk to surface.

Scunthorpe’s alleged pursuit of Potts became public 16 days after they played for the final time in the season (that impressively professional victory in the sunshine at Sheffield United).

Before May was out last year, the club had already done three bits of business, bringing in skipper Stephen Dawson and out-of-contract Preston North End duo Jack King and Scott Wiseman. It’s hard to see United recruiting anything more than a trio of new faces throughout this summer in its entirety. I’d certainly argue whether they actually need to.

Alexander has completed most tasks exceptionally well since arriving at Glanford Park nine weeks ago. It will be interesting to see if he can do the same when it comes to recruitment.

“I need to find players that will improve the squad and when you have a good team to build on, the pool of players is smaller to pick from,” the Iron boss admitted after his side brushed aside the Blades. It certainly seems like being a challenge.

Six straight wins to end the season highlights the serious potential of the squad Scunthorpe have already assembled and, more crucially, are under contract. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be overly worried if the side that started at Bramall Lane did exactly the same in the opening match of the 2016/17 campaign, whoever it may be against.

That said, there is still scope for improvement to the Scunthorpe squad. Particularly when it comes to their attacking play. The reemergence of Hakeeb Adelakun as a first-team regular under Alexander has been every bit as justified as it has welcome. The talented teenager continues to be brilliantly unpredictable, but he makes things happen, for either himself or others, more often than he does mistakes.

Successfully harnessing that talent and allowing it to finally flourish is, for me, among the biggest things for the United manager to consider as he shapes his own side and set-up.

In a side which badly lacked pace and trickery in wide areas, Adelakun was a breath – or, more accurately, a short sharp gasp – of fresh air.

Getting someone of a similar ilk on the opposite flank would be welcome business, as would bringing in some cover for the 19-year-old himself, so he can be rested or replaced like-for-like if and when the need arises.

Luke Williams has much potential, but continues to under perform, aside from a few flashes of brilliance. It’s hard to think the Iron will get the best out of the skillful former Middlesbrough midfielder while he’s deployed on the flank either.

The other area in which Scunthorpe need reinforcements is up front, where Paddy Madden is continually forced to carry the majority of the goal-scoring burden.

Possessing a bit more firepower is among the many ‘what-ifs’ that have been mused since the Iron missed out on a top-six finish by just a couple of goals (along with conceding from a cross in injury-time at Shrewsbury and sacking Mark Robins a month earlier).

Again though that’s a tough-looking task given whoever comes in will have to be content with playing second fiddle to the Iron’s hard-working Irishman, which likely means having to take a bit of a punt rather than bringing in a proven poacher.

It might not be as busy a summer as we’ve seen in recent years. But it’s no less an important one if Scunthorpe are to become serious promotion contenders.

You can follow Chris on twitter @chrissumpter80

Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

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