Hemel Hempstead Town boss Dean Brennan in pensive mood. Picture: Dave Loveday
By Tom Bodell
Hemel Hempstead Town have completed the signings of former Watford defender Jorell Johnson, ex-Nottingham Forest full-back Jack Kelly and Whitehawk midfielder Arnaud Mendy.
Johnson and Kelly have both spent time on loan with the Tudors previously. Johnson, 20, made 25 appearances for his hometown club during the 2014/15 campaign while Kelly, 19, turned out 12 times for the Vauxhall Road club last season.
The duo have featured regularly during pre-season but Brennan confirmed they – along with holding midfielder Mendy, who made 32 appearances for the Hawks last season – have signed for Hemel after Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to neighbours Boreham Wood.
“Arnaud Mendy [was the number four],” confirmed Brennan. “He’s signed for us.
“Everyone who played in the first half is with us and we had two trialists. The right-back who came on – Boris is his name – and the other lad in midfield – Tony. We will have another look at them on Tuesday and then make a decision.”
Jorell Johnson, partially obscured, slides in against Hendon in a pre-season friendly. Picture: DBeech Photography
Centre-back Johnson spent time on loan at National League South rivals St Albans City last season. But he played much of his football under ex-Liverpool winger Harry Kewell in Watford’s Under-21 side. Brennan says the jump into first-team football is sizeable.
“It’s men’s football so it’s a massive difference,” he explained. “He’s got to deal with power, pace, physicality and the tempo of the game is higher than Under-21s. It’s a bit more structured than the Under-21s in terms of keeping the ball.
“But I think the best education you can have is Non-League football. Look at how many players have moved into the league this summer – there have been loads.”
Turning to Kelly, Brennan said: “He’s a good lad. He’s a good player with good speed and he’s defensively good. He’s 18 years of age so he’s a pup really; still learning the game.
“We’ve got a lot of young players. If you look across our back four Jordan Rose is 26, JJ is 20, Jack Kelly is 19 and our right-back, James Kaloczi, is 21. There’s a lot of development in them.”
Hemel Hempstead host Cheshunt on Tuesday in the first round of the Herts Charity Cup. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.