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Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin on the signing of James Alabi

Maidstone boss Hakan Hayrettin has high hopes for latest signing James Alabi.

Alabi, who’s joined from Bromley, played the second half of the Stones’ goalless draw with Leyton Orient on Tuesday night.

James Alabi in action against Leyton Orient Picture: Steve Terrell
James Alabi in action against Leyton Orient Picture: Steve Terrell

The big striker won the National League with Orient three years ago and has also played for Chester and Tranmere, along with a loan spell at Dover four years ago.

The 27-year-old, who came through the youth ranks at Stoke, gives Maidstone another dimension in attack and fans liked what they saw of him in his first appearance.

“I’ve been speaking to James for a while, he’s a good lad who fits in well,” said Hayrettin.

“He’s got bags of experience, which we need, and he looked sharp when he came on.

“He’s been at a lot of big clubs, Chester, Tranmere, Leyton Orient, Bromley, and he needs to use his experience to help these guys out.

“Not that we lack experience, I circled names on the board the other day when I was going through formations and players, and I think 10 of the team have played in the National League.”

Alabi’s arrival adds to Hayrettin’s options in attack, with Jack Barham nearing a return from a toe injury, while Hady Ghandour has the bit between his teeth after turning his loan move from Charlton into a permanent deal.

“Barham’s had his boots on, which is good, it’s encouraging for him, and Hady’s been absolutely excellent,” said Hayrettin.

“He’s come back in peak condition but he’s got to maintain that.

“We’re all right up front, and we’ve got Christie Pattisson and Sol Wanjau-Smith, who can also play through the middle if we need them to.”

Wanjau-Smith, Maidstone’s summer signing from Hungerford, sat out the Orient friendly as a precaution after going over his knee at training.

He’s relocated from his home in Bristol to join the Stones and has settled in nicely.

“Sol’s been brilliant,” said Hayrettin. “He’s a great lad, with a great attitude, he’s full of enthusiasm and he’s a great character.

Hady Ghandour has impressed manager Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Steve Terrell
Hady Ghandour has impressed manager Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Steve Terrell

“I’m big on personality and character, I sometimes sit in there and have a laugh and a joke with the players to feel my way around them, and Sol is someone who’s fitted in really well.

“He’s someone I was tracking for ages.”

Maidstone started pre-season by coming from a goal down to win 5-1 at Isthmian League new boys Sheppey on Saturday.

Dominic Odusanya, Ghandour and Pattisson were among the scorers, along with two trialists.

A number of trialists also featured against Orient as Hayrettin works towards finalising his squad for the season.

“We’re just trying to build up everyone’s minutes at the moment,” said the Stones boss.

“It’s about getting minutes in the players, sharpness, ball retention, movement, things like that.

“We’re where I thought we’d be. You don’t want to be giving players 90 minutes in the first friendlies, it’s just about doing the right things and getting those fitness levels.

“Results never matter to me at this stage.

“As time goes on and you get a feel for what your team is going to be, it’s going to be a different kettle of fish, but it’s about giving players equal minutes so I can make my mind up.

“There’s five or six trialists there who’ve come to impress but I’m not going to rush.

“I’ve never done that, I only sign players if I’m 100% sure.

“We’re good, we’re healthy, we’re working hard on the end goal of making sure we’re fit to compete in the first game of the season.”

Maidstone meet Enfield at the Gallagher Stadium tomorrow.

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