Spitfires will parade Baker against Grays

- By Wendy Gee

Eastleigh fans will get a first look at new signing James Baker at home to Grays Athletic tonight (7.45pm) – even though the deal for the Braintree Town youngster has yet to be concluded.

As Baker is under 24, Braintree are entitled to a fee for the Essex-based striker, but the clubs can't agree a price and it will be left to a tribunal,” explained Eastleigh manager Ian Baird.

“We made Braintree an offer, which we believe to a very fair one based on what we see, but they've decided not to accept it.

“It's going to cost both clubs money for a tribunal – plus the incovenience of us having to take the day off work to go to London.”

After welcoming Baker, Tom Jordan, Trevor Challis and Matt Groves to the Silverlake, Eastleigh are in the process of making Havant & Waterlooville midfielder Tony Taggart their fifth summer signing.

It was former Hawks boss Baird who took the former Farnborough, Barnet and Weymouth player to Havant in December 2005 but, despite some decent performances and a return of five goals last season – including the FA Cup winner at Notts County – the Hawks have let him go.

“Tony has joined Eastleigh but he hasn't signed a contract yet,” Baird confirmed.

“I've known Taggs since he was 17 at Farnborough and he's always struck me as a good player.

“He can play in central midfield, left of a four or on the right.”

It's the sort of midfield versatility that Eastleigh are in need of with player/assistant boss David Hughes still recovering from knee/hand injuries and both Peter Adeniyi and Anthony Riviere suspended for the opening league game at Thurrock on August 9.

One face who will be missing against his old club Grays tonight is speedy, 21-year-old winger Mark Marshall, who is in the second week of trials with League One outfit Swindon Town.

Although Marshall has not travelled with the Robins on their pre-season trip to Austria, Baird reported: “I've heard he's done well in training but, like everyone, Swindon need to see players play and he's due to play a friendly for them tomorrow. We should know after that.”

Baird had initially said he would only allow the Jamaican-born wideman to spend a week at Swindon, but he said: “I'm not going to deny the lad the opportunity.

“He could play at that level and, if he impresses, then hopefully Swindon will come back with something.”

Marshall is under contract with Eastleigh until the end of the coming season, but there have been no discussions with Swindon yet about a possible fee.


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