Phil Parkinson's plans for next season are continuing to take shape after he filled two positions in one fell swoop with the signature of Matt Gould on a new Altrincham contract.
The experienced New Zealand keeper will continue to challenge for the number one spot after committing to a deal that will keep him at The J.Davidson Stadium for Alty's debut season as a full-time professional club.
In addition, he will put the know-how gained from countless appearances at club level, as well as on the international stage for New Zealand, to good effect after agreeing to take over as specialist goalkeeping coach.
The 28-year old has been leaning towards coaching in recent times, after attaining UEFA qualifications, and is the ideal candidate to get the best out of Alty's senior keepers, both as tutor and rival for the number one berth.
'Gouldy will hold a dual role as first-team keeper coach and as a player, competing for the number one jersey,' said Alty boss Parkinson. 'His shot-stopping and integrity are his stand-out qualities, and he’ll be a valuable member of our team.'
It's another welcome breakthrough for Phil in his quest to build a highly-competitive as well as fully-professional squad for next season, with Isaac Marriott, Elliot Osborne, skipper Jordan Hulme and vice-captain Toby Mullarkey all agreeing new deals, alongside the already-contracted Ryan Colclough, Brad Jackson, Jamie Morgan and Marcus Dinanga.
That's nine players secured already for 2022-23, with the summer break only eight days old. It's a sign of the management team's determination to have every last piece of the jigsaw in place in readiness for the start of pre-season, and they will leave no stone unturned to give a new-look Alty squad the best possible chance of hitting the ground running when another campaign gets underway.
It promises to be a challenging but potentially memorable summer for Matt, who opted for a fresh start at Alty after leaving Spennymoor Town in August 2020, despite strong interest from Scottish side Hamilton.
He was part of the New Zealand squad that recently won the World Cup Oceania Football Confederation qualifiers, and they will now compete in the inter-confederation play-off final against Costa Rica for a place in the tournament itself in Qatar later this year.
What a prospect for a keeper who has had to be patient at Alty due to Tony Thompson's consistently outstanding form restricting him to 10 Robins appearances so far but who excelled on loan at Nantwich Town last season.
The Kiwis have a friendly against Peru at Espanyol's ground on Sunday, June 5th, followed by a behind-closed-doors warm-up match against another national side in Doha on June 9th, before the big winner-takes-all clash with Costa Rica, again in Doha, on Tuesday, June 14th, surely the biggest game of Matt's entire career, should he be selected.
Good luck with that, Matt, and if you end up heading back to Qatar for a couple of weeks or so towards the end of November, it will be with the very best wishes of everyone at Alty!