Johnson boosts Brakes’ striking options

Leamington have completed the signing of striker Ricky Johnson from Banbury United in time for him to be part of the squad for tomorrow’s FA Trophy trip to Belper Town.

Brakes manager Paul Holleran was overjoyed to finally land the Banbury-born hitman who has been the subject of nine seven-day approaches this season.

“He is somebody that we have watched for some time while he was at Woodford United and Banbury,” said Holleran.

“And although being a Banbury lad he stayed loyal to them over the summer, he has decided that it was time for a change and we are glad that he has chosen to come to Leamington.

“Ricky is the type of player I’ve been trying to sign since we lost Jacob Blyth to Leicester, but they are few and far between.

“He has scored goals regularly for sides that haven’t always been in the top half of the table, so I am confident that he will thrive in our environment.”

Johnson, 24, was a product of the Puritans youth system but played for Easington Sports, Witney United and Hook Norton before joining Woodford United, where he scored 19 league goals in 2010/11.

He had already netted six times for them before rejoining Banbury in December 2011, making 48 appearances and scoring 19 times.

The addition of Johnson should go some way to addressing the loss of Michael Tuohy and Craig Owen, who have both left Brakes due to personal circumstances.

Owen moved to Burntwood, Staffordshire, in the summer while also relocating his business to Cannock and the demands of travelling to Leamington three times a week have proved too difficult for him.

“Craig is another player that we have picked up from a lower league who has stepped up to the mark and become an important part of the squad,” said Holleran.

“We wish him all the best and he knows that the door will always be open for him.

“It looks likely that he will join Rushall Olympic, and if he does, he will be joining a cracking club with good people.

“They are on his doorstep, play at the same level and the reduced travelling will make things easier for him to manage.”

Former Aston Villa youth product Tuohy, meanwhile, has moved to Gillingham due to a change in his girlfriend’s job and Holleran says his versatility will be hard to replace.

“He’s been a great player for Leamington.

“People might say he didn’t play that many games, but I could play him at right-back, right midfield, in the centre or on the left and he was one of the most gifted players I’ve ever had.

“I remember him as a youngster and if it hadn’t been for a bad ankle injury I’m sure he would have gone on to play pro football.

“He’s going to be a big loss to the squad and we all wish him the very best.”

Brakes head to Belper tomorrow for the first qualifying round tie with question marks surrounding the fitness of both Richard Batchelor and Joe Magunda.

Magunda picked up a dead leg in the FA Cup defeat at Corby, while Batchelor limped off before half-time with a low-grade strain to his quad.

However, Holleran expects both to recover in time to face The Nailers.