Johnson hopeful of Forte signing

Date published: 30 July 2014

JONATHAN Forte is expected to add to Athletic’s forward options by signing a contract with the club by the end of this week.

The 28-year-old has been working with manager Lee Johnson for the past month as a trialist, playing in all but one of the club’s six pre-season matches to date.

Johnson told the Chronicle he is “hopeful” of sealing a deal for free agent Forte — which will happen after loose ends have been tied up between the player and Southampton.

The former Sheffield United man, for whom pace is the major feature of his game, began his career as a trainee at Bramall Lane and went on to make 39 first-team appearances for the Blades spread across four years, mainly as a substitute.

Loan spells at Doncaster and Rotherham preceded a successful move to Scunthorpe, where Forte helped the Iron gain promotion from League One through the play-offs in 2009.

The Barbados international linked back up with his former Scunthorpe boss Nigel Adkins at Southampton in January 31, 2011, signing a three-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee.

But a lack of first-team action led to further loan spells with Preston, Notts County, Crawley and — most recently — back at Sheffield United, where he spent the latter half of the 2012-13 campaign.

Forte didn’t, though, play any first-team football at all last season.

He could be the last of Athletic’s permanent signings, before the Sky Bet League One season begins with a game at Colchester United on Saturday, August 9.

And Forte, who can operate either on the wing or as a central striker, is in line to take on the number 11 shirt for Athletic that is currently vacant.

Other unassigned shirts announced by the club are numbers five and nine, providing a hint that Johnson’s first-choice line-up has yet to be assembled in full.

The loan market is now the likely route for taking up those vacancies, with the first-team squad currently comprising 21 players — compared to 25 starting the campaign a year ago.

Squad numbers: 1. Paul Rachubka, 2. Connor Brown, 3. Joseph Mills, 4. Timothee Dieng, 6. Liam Kelly, 7. James Dayton, 8. Mike Jones, 10. Danny Philliskirk, 12. David Mellor, 13. Joel Coleman, 14. Jonson Clarke-Harris, 15. Carl Winchester, 16. James Wilson, 18. Adam Lockwood, 20. Brian Wilson, 21. Genseric Kusunga, 22. William Gros, 23. Rhys Turner, 27. Amari Morgan-Smith, 28. Jack Truelove, 29. Jordan Bove.