Hendon skipper backs returning duo to put club into title contention
PUBLISHED: 16:00 10 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:31 10 August 2016
Hendon skipper Kevin Maclaren believes the return of popular duo Aaron Morgan and Andre Da Costa can give the club the boost they need to challenge for the Ryman League Premier Division title.
The pair played an integral role in the club’s impressive 2014-15 campaign, when the Greens narrowly missed out on promotion to the National League South after losing to Margate in the play-off final.
The club fared altogether differently last year, with a series of on and off-the-field issues leaving the Kingsbury-based side in a fight to stay in the league at one point.
Costa and Morgan both became frustrated with the situation, sealing mid-season moves away from the club, but they are now back to prove a point and Maclaren could not be more delighted to see them return.
Maclaren, speaking ahead of Saturday’s league opener at home against Worthing, said: “Aaron and Andre were huge players for us in the season when we finished runners-up, so it’s great they’re back.
“I spoke to both of them when they left and they explained the reasons why they came to that decision.
“It was a difficult time for Hendon at the time and they decided it was best for them to move on.
“I spoke to them again during the close season though, and I think they realised the grass wasn’t greener on the other side.
“Gary [McCann] and Scott [Cousins] run it so professionally compared to other clubs at this level, so I don’t know why you would want to leave that environment, because I certainly wouldn’t.
“We welcome them back with open arms though, because we know what they’re all about, and technically they’re fantastic footballers.”
Maclaren continued: “Both of them need to concentrate on getting themselves fully fit and earning their places back in the team.
“The squad is looking very strong so it’s not a given that they’re going to be starting week in week out, but both of them have certainly got the ability to be doing just that.
“It’s just in their heads now – if they can get their mentality right and knuckle down, they’ll be huge players for us.
“There’s no doubting that having these two guys back in our side will only strengthen our title credentials.”
Maclaren reserved special praise for Morgan, who has returned for a third stint with the Greens after scoring 29 times in 132 appearances in his previous spells.
He added: “He’s had a couple of issues over the summer, and as a result up until recently he was looking well out of condition.
“But he’s got himself back into shape now and I’m sure he’ll be fighting fit in no time. Casey and myself are very close with Aaron, we go a long way back.
“We played together as kids and have a strong bond. We’ll make sure he keeps on the straight and narrow – I’m sure he’ll be a huge player for us.”
Manager McCann said: “I’m delighted to get this one over the line and be able to work with Aaron again. We got there in the end, I always thought we would.
“His fitness levels are two or three weeks behind everyone else, but when he gets back to the condition he needs to be in, I’m sure he’ll be a big asset for us.
“He had a bit of a disjointed season last year, but he’s more than capable of replicating the form he showed two seasons ago, when we were so close to securing promotion.
“When he’s in that mood he’s nearly unplayable on his day, so I’m pleased to have him back on board.”