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Experienced Dean Thomas Returns To Help Out

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Former Hinckley United boss Dean Thomas has agreed to take interim charge of Midland League Division One club Hinckley AFC during their search for a new manager following the departure of Carl Abbott to take charge of Evo-Stik League South side Market Drayton Town.

After Abbott’s departure, the search for a new manager started with the opening of applications for a new boss.

Until that appointment is made, Thomas, who guided United to a Conference (National League) North play-off final ten years ago, has agreed to help the club during the changeover.

The former Notts County man took charge of nearly 1,000 Knitters games during his fifteen-year tenure, and returns to AFC to help during the appointment process.

Abbott’s former assistant Paul Tomlinson assisted Thomas for Saturday’s league game at Chelmsley Town, but will then follow Abbott to his new club to leave Thomas in sole interim charge.

On taking up the role, Thomas said: “It’s a pleasure and an honour to be asked to assist during this period. Hinckley AFC are the only club I would come out of retirement for, and I’m excited to get back in the dugout and try to win games.

“It’s a short-term fix and will bridge the gap until a new manager is appointed, but the Board wanted it running as professionally as possible and I will do just that.”

Chairman Steve Jelfs said: “We’re very grateful to Dean for stepping in during this period of change at the club.

“Having someone of Dean’s calibre in interim charge will allow us the time and breathing space needed to make the right appointment for the club moving forward.”

Thomas spoke of his excitement at returning to the dugout after Saturday’s win at Chelmsley.

Nearly five years to the day after resigning as manager of Hinckley United, Thomas was back in charge with his first game as interim boss in a 5-0 win at Pack Meadow.

And Thomas said he was delighted to be back involved. He said: “I was quite excited before the game.

“It’s nice to come back to my home town club and I’ve got a lot of history with the club. I do miss the game sometimes but I’ve made a lot of decisions outside football.”

Thomas said he was pleased with the number of players from Carl Abbott’s squad who played yesterday, but admits he doesn’t know what the future holds for some despite being hopeful that most will remain with the club.

“The consensus is that the majority will stay. You never quite know, and things can change from one day to the next. We’re getting a list together and we’re hopeful that the majority will play on Tuesday.

“I expect that there may be a few changes but we’ll get to Tuesday and see what happens. Hopefully they’ll stick around.”

He said he was pleased with the way his side played, and was full of praise with the way they responded after a difficult week.

“It’s been a good day after a turbulent week. It was nice that the lads all came and the one thing I wanted today was a good attitude – to perform well and do the job properly.

“They stuck to the gameplan and in the end it was nice that we scored five goals and kept a clean sheet.

“We scored early goals in the first half and then the third really killed them off. It was important that we scored at the start of the second half, and we did. They were never going to come back from that.

“They kept on battling so fair play to them, but it was important we saw the game out and kept a clean sheet. Sometimes you can get sloppy but today we were good. The attitude of the players was great and we can now look forward to Tuesday.”

Tuesday’s Polymac Packaging League Cup match against landlords Heather St John’s will be Thomas’ first home game back at the club, and he says it’s something he’s looking forward to.

“It’s a nice local derby, especially with the groundshare. They’ll want to turn us over so it’s important that we put as a strong a side out as we can. We need to show the same attitude and application that we did today.”

Meanwhile, two former captains of Hinckley United and Hinckley AFC have re-signed for the club this evening.

Former Knitters skipper Richard Lavery and ex-AFC captain Luke Richards have become Thomas’ first signings as interim manager.

Lavery made 279 appearances for Hinckley United over three spells at the club, and was club captain the year the Knitters reached the Conference North play-off final.

The former AFC Telford United and Nuneaton Town midfielder, who can also play at the back, has played for Barwell since Luke United’s demise.

Richards joined Shepshed Dynamo in the summer but now returns to AFC, for whom he made eighty-three appearances during his first spell.

Only Sean Williams and Ryan Seal have played more times, while only Seal and Sam Agar have scored more goals than Richards’ 49.

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