YORK City’s new striker Wes Fletcher has been described as a “natural finisher” by manager Nigel Worthington.
Former Burnley forward Fletcher signed a two-year deal with the Minstermen yesterday during a busy afternoon of business in which Scotland under-21 international ’keeper Chris Kettings also arrived on a season-long loan from Blackpool.
In addition, Worthington unveiled ex-Darlington shot-stopper Andy Collett as the club’s new goalkeeper coach, while Estonian international Sander Puri underwent a successful medical to complete his move to Bootham Crescent two days after scoring a header for his country in a 1-1 draw with Kyrgyzstan.
Ormskirk-born Fletcher, 22, was on the schoolboy books of both Manchester United and Liverpool before serving his apprenticeship at Burnley, where he was released at the end of last season following four years as a Turf Moor professional.
During that time, he only made two League Cup outings for the Clarets but scored during loan spells with Grimsby, Stockport, Accrington and Crewe.
In total, the 6ft 2in forward has netted five times in 32 senior games and was also farmed out to Yeovil in March but only managed one substitute appearance for the Glovers, who went on to gain promotion to the Championship through the play-offs.
Worthington beat off interest from League One Tranmere and League Two rivals Morecambe to secure Fletcher’s signature on a free transfer and said: “He’s young and has got a lot to offer.
“There comes a stage in somebody’s young career that they have to step out of the comfort zone at a bigger club and test themselves in League football and I have every faith that he will deal with that. He’s hungry and wants to score lots of goals.
“He’s scored a wealth of goals in reserve football and, while that’s completely different to doing the same at first-team level, he’s a natural finisher. He nicks goals and can score all types of goals.
“He will also give us good energy up front and has good pace and movement off the ball. Pre-season will now be important in terms of harnessing everything together and building relationships on the field.” Glasgow-born Kettings, 20, has three U21 caps to his name and has also been on loan to Birmingham City and Woodley Sports in the past.
His only previous Football League experience came in February 2012 during another loan spell with Morecambe, whom he played for during a 2-1 defeat against Bristol Rovers and a 1-0 win against Macclesfield. The 6ft 4in net-minder is currently behind full Scotland international Matt Gilks and the more experienced Mark Halstead in the pecking order for a place between the sticks at Blackpool but Worthington reckons he will provide credible competition for Michael Ingham, saying: “Chris is a very, very good young ’keeper.
“He’s a big lad and has good upper body strength. I like a big ’keeper. It gives you a real presence and we’ve got two now, so that will bring healthy competition.
“I’ve watched Chris and spoken to people who have worked with him and he is a young boy with a fantastic attitude. He wants to do well. I wanted somebody to push Michael because that’s important no matter what position you play, what your name is or how old you are.
“If somebody can do a better job, then all I am interested in is winning games for the football club not appeasing anybody. If players get in the team and play well, then they will stay in.”
Kettings’ new mentor Collett started his career at Middlesbrough but only made two first-team appearances in four years at his home-town club before enjoying five-year spells at Bristol Rovers and Darlington.
He was forced to retire in 2004 with a shoulder injury having played 280 professional games and has since been the goalkeeper coach at Darlington, Oldham and Hartlepool.
Close season restructuring at relegated Hartlepool meant, however, Durham-based Collett, now 39, became available for the Bootham Crescent vacancy.
The City chief said: “We spoke to several goalkeeper coaches and I felt Andy was the right person location-wise because his family don’t live far away from York.
“His personality and ability as a coach were also key factors. We wanted to bring in somebody who would fit in with the rest of the staff and Andy will do that no problem.
“He has a good sense of humour and a smiley face, which is what I like.”