Two defenders on trial at Exeter City as sale of Ben Chrisene frees up budget

Ben Chrisene’s move from Exeter City to Aston Villa has freed up enough budget for the Grecians to make one more addition to the squad – with two trialists featuring in Tuesday’s win over Tiverton Town.

The 16-year-old made the transfer to the Premier League giants last week for an undisclosed free, with manager Matt Taylor saying that a left back is the area they are targeting – with Jack Sparkes the only specialist in that position in the squad at present.

Two trialists – Lewis Page and Branley Garmston – both appeared for 45 minutes for the Grecians in their 2-1 friendly win over Tiverton Town on Tuesday night, with Taylor saying that the pair did themselves no harm with their performances.

Page, who has been on trial at Plymouth Argyle and rejected the Pilgrims offer of a short-term contract, started the game, while former Gillingham man Garmston played the second half.

Both are expected to spend the week training with the club and will hope to impress sufficiently to earn a longer stay in Devon.

Argyle trialist Lewis Page during the pre-season game against Plymouth Parkway at Home Park on Saturday, August 8, 2020 Photo: PPAUK (Image: Dave Rowntree/PPAUK)

Page has not played a competitive match since October 2018 because of injury issues and that led to him being released by Charlton Athletic earlier this summer. He had been on trial down the A38 at Plymouth Argyle, but rejected the short term deal that Ryan Lowe had offered him.

The 24-year-old started his career at West Ham United and also had loan spells at Cambridge United and Coventry City and, in total, he has made 55 career appearances, scoring once.

Garmston came through the ranks at West Bromwich Albion. The 26-year-old did not appear in the first team at the Hawthorns, but had loan spells with Colchester United and Gillingham before making the move to the Gills permanent in 2015. He has 188 career appearances to his name and scored four goals.

Taylor said: “Lewis is a player of a high pedigree. He has been unlucky with injuries, so he is one of those where he’s not played enough over the past two seasons. We know what good standards he has in his performances, and we are having a look this week at how he reacts to training, how he fits in within the group, and he has spent the last two weeks at Plymouth so had a bit of game time and shown in the performance tonight.

“He is a good player and there is a reason why he turned their short term contract down. We are in the market for a left back, and of the players on the pitch, it will come down to their physical presence and if they can complete a season. We have to get full value for money as I can’t sign players who are going to break throughout the season and aren’t available, so it key we get it right.

Bradley Garmston goal Action from the Sky Bet League Two football match between Grimsby Town FC and Newport County FC at Blundell Park.
Bradley Garmston goal Action from the Sky Bet League Two football match between Grimsby Town FC and Newport County FC at Blundell Park. (Image: Jon Corken/Grimsby Live)

“They are both two proper players with pedigree and any player we sign has to bring competition to places. Both did themselves no harm at all. Lewis was assured in the first half, and we are looking at him and he is looking at us, while Bradley didn’t quite get enough of the ball in the second half as much as we would have liked, but both are good players, trained well, and will get more game time in them on Friday.”

After the summer signings of Jake Caprice and Rory McArdle, Taylor had intimated that budget restrictions meant there was no money to make any new additions, but Chrisene’s departure has freed up the purse strings enough to make one more addition, with the potential for more if Brentford star Ollie Watkins does make a move to Premier League and City benefit from the sell-on clause.

He added: “The money is not much, but it does mean that I can address the certain position where we are looking at, and anyone that we bring in has to add value

“We are just looking for the one at the moment. If any players left for any reason than that would free up some more budget. The long saga of Ollie Watkins is rumbling on somewhere, but I cannot affect that.

“I am content with where the squad is. It is young and inexperienced, and we do not had the depth we have in previous season, but have a good core group and pleased with how the new signings have fitted in.”

Taylor added that the two players – who remain unnamed – who were told they don’t have a future at City are still with the group. He added: “They are still with us and training until an agent tells me otherwise, so they are still our players. We don’t have a big enough squad not to use them. We will be using all our players and we are trying to free up the budget, but anyone within in our ranks, it is important to be available to play.”

One player though who will not be joining City is Tyler Denton, after Taylor deciding against offering the former Leeds United man a deal.

“Tyler came in and trained with us for a week and obviously played against Bristol Rovers,” Taylor said. “He has a really good profile in terms of what we are looking at recruitment-wise but Tyler wasn’t quite where we needed him to be to offer him a contract.

“That’s not only a reflection on Tyler, but the group we have here with the likes of Jack Sparkes and Alex Hartridge.

Scott Wootton of Plymouth Argyle challenges for the ball with Tyler Denton of Stevenage during the Sky Bet League Two match between Plymouth Argyle and Stevenage on Sunday 29th Dec 2019, Home Park, Plymouth, Devon - Photo: Dave Rowntree/PPAUK
Scott Wootton of Plymouth Argyle challenges for the ball with Tyler Denton of Stevenage during the Sky Bet League Two match between Plymouth Argyle and Stevenage on Sunday 29th Dec 2019, Home Park, Plymouth, Devon – Photo: Dave Rowntree/PPAUK

“I have to be so sensible with any money I spend and I have to get it exactly right in terms of value for money and there are other players that could become available. The loan market is going to become more apparent as Championship and Premier League clubs are now back in training and their younger players will start to go out on loan.

“Tyler did himself no harm with his training and performance against Bristol Rovers, we just felt it wasn’t quite enough for us to put a contract to him, so we move on.”

Devon Live