YORK City manager Gary Mills has added former Burton left-back Danny Blanchett to his League Two squad and is still hoping to bring midfielder Jonathan Smith back to Bootham Crescent.
Mills also remains in the market for another striker to finalise his summer recruitment drive ahead of Friday’s return to pre-season training and has agreed terms with out-of-contract pair Chris Doig and Jon Challinor.
But Scott Brown, Matthew Blinkhorn and Eugen Bopp have all been released and are free to find new employers.
Blanchett, 25, is Mills’ fifth close season signing following the captures of Lee Bullock, Oli Johnson, John McReady and Michael Coulson with the City boss moving quickly to provide competition for Jamal Fyfield at left-back following James Meredith’s decision to join Bradford City.
Harrow-born Blanchett played for his home-town semi-professional team, as well as Hendon and Cambridge City, before a trial at Liverpool brought him to the attention of a number of suitors.
He went on to sign for Peterborough in 2007 but, three years later, moved on to Crewe after loan spells at Hereford and AFC Wimbledon.
Blanchett played 44 matches during the 2010/11 campaign for the Railwaymen but was then released and joined Burton after a trial with Derby. He made only 16 appearances for the League Two outfit last term but Mills believes Blanchett will thrive on his new side’s preference for attractive football.
The City chief said: “Danny’s a player I have always liked and watched on numerous occasions. It’s important to have competition for places all over the park so everybody has to be on their game to keep their shirt.
“That was the case last season and it will be no different next season. We’ve got Jamal who can play left-back and we needed another good player who’s played at League Two level and even higher to fight for that place and Danny’s that player.
“He played a lot of games for Crewe and a lot of clubs were chasing him then. Things have not worked as well as he would have liked at Burton but, no disrespect to them, they play direct football, whereas Crewe play very similarly to how we do.
“I’m sure our fans will see he’s my type of player. He’s got a great left foot, likes to get forward and is a good defender too.”
With Blanchett and Fyfield on board, Mills is now unlikely to sound out Middlesbrough about the possibility of bringing last season’s loan signing Ben Gibson back to the club but admitted that could be an option if both players do not fulfill expectations.
“I can’t go into a season thinking that we might get Ben Gibson back,” Mills explained. “He wants to get into Middlesbrough’s team and those matches at Wembley for us will have given him a massive lift in confidence in that respect.
“If Danny and Jamal are not doing their jobs as they should be then we always know Ben is there if it’s not working out for him at Middlesbrough and he wants to come back but, at this moment, I’m not thinking we need him here because we’ve got two good left-backs now.”
On the prospect of bringing Smith back to North Yorkshire, after he was made surplus to requirements by last season’s League Two champions Swindon, Mills added: “I would love to bring him back to the football club. We are working on that and trying very hard to make it happen. I’ve also got one other target – a striker.
“We are virtually there with him but, if we cannot get him, we will be fine with the strikers we have got. We come back for training on Friday and, as I like to be, we are just about there now in terms of our squad for next season.”
Challinor and Doig will be part of that squad having committed to the club for another season and Mills expressed his pleasure at retaining the services of both experienced professionals, saying: “It’s sometimes easy to disregard players and think you can get better because we’ve gone into the Football League but I don’t think that’s the case with Jon and Doigy.
“They are very good players who suit my style of playing. They were part of the spirit we had in the dressing room last season, which was important and will be again.”
Challinor and Lanre Oyebanjo will both contest City’s right-back role again, although Mills pointed out that both were serious candidates for a midfield berth too.
He said: “There will be a great challenge between Jon and Lanre for the right-back position but they are both capable of playing in midfield as well and can play in the same side together. What I do know is I don’t need to go looking for another right-back, as they have both done superbly for me there.”