Squad Update: 1st February 2022

Atherton Collieries can today confirm we have bolstered our front line with the signing of striker James Hooper from Witton Albion, alongside the return of Zack Clarke on loan from Chester until the end of the season. James Hooper joins following a two-year stint with Witton Albion, scoring five goals over twenty appearances for the club. Hooper began his career with Rochdale, where he was awarded youth team player of the season before progressing to make appearances in the Football League with both Rochdale and Carlisle United. Hooper has gone on to impress in the Northern Premier League with Radcliffe Borough, scoring 17 goals for the club. The 24 year-old forward has also represented West Didsbury & Chorlton, FC United, Salford and Chorley. Speaking on the news, manager Brad Cooke said: "We spoke initially in the summer, and since parting ways with Witton, Hoops has been training with us for a few weeks now following an operation. He looks in fantastic condition, and is chomping at the bit to get back playing!" "If we get him anywhere near his best, when we have an exceptional talent. He knows what is going to take to get there!" Zack Clarke returns to the Skuna having now made his senior debut for Chester, which came less than 24 hours after his final appearance for the Colls at Lancaster. The physical striker made four appearances over his initial 1-month loan stint for the Stripes, alongside two outings for Chester and three goals in seven games for Clitheroe. Speaking on Zack's return, Brad Cooke noted: "I was absolutely gutted when Chester recalled Zack, and after featuring under the new manager I thought a return wouldn't happen. But football is a strange game, and we've been in regular contact with Chester to keep tabs on him. When it became apparent that he may be available again, I snapped their hand off!" "Thankfully Zack enjoyed his time with us was equally as happy to return. With Dec, Marcus, Zack, Hoops, Aaron, Matty Gillam and Elliot Rokka, we have some real options at the top end of the pitch now, which will stand us well for the remainder of the season." Both players will be available for selection against Ashton United tonight. Photo: David Featherstone Article: Rob Clarke

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