Scunthorpe United have been given another healthy injection of experience to their squad with the arrival of veteran goalkeeper Mark Howard.
The 34-year-old shot-stopper was considering his options as a free agent, and claims there were a number of interested parties in acquiring his services, before deciding on the switch to Scunthorpe.
Howard, who started his career at Premier League outfit Arsenal before playing for the likes of Cardiff City, Sheffield United, Bolton and Blackpool, says he’s delighted to get a deal over the line and will now look forward to the task of trying to help the Iron climb up the League Two table.
“I’m delighted to get it done, and as soon as I knew Scunthorpe were interested it was a no-brainer for me,” Howard told the club’s official website, “I wanted to get back playing and this is a great opportunity for me to play some games and help the club do well.”
Few would begrudge Howard of wishing to join a Scunthrope United side that were slightly higher in the table, with the Iron at 12/1 in the football betting to finish in the top seven this season. But the challenge of trying to help Neil Cox’s side try to climb out of trouble at the bottom end of the table is clearly something that appeals to the experienced keeper.
Regular first-team stopper Rory Watson now has serious competition for his starting jersey, which can only be a good thing for the team going forward. One only has to look at the incumbent champions of England in Liverpool to see how a lack of depth in the goalkeeping ranks can be devastating to a team’s chances of success.
With Cox suggesting Howard, who has signed a deal until the end of the current campaign, won’t be the last free agent to be coming to the club, Scunthorpe look set to continue bringing in some older heads to help the more youthful players at the Sands Venue Stadium.
The Iron have already brought back one familiar figure in the form of defender Junior Brown, who has also signed a deal until the end of the season. Brown, 31, was on loan at Scunthorpe last season and played 24 times for the Iron. He was released by Coventry City over the summer but again has a chance to impress under Cox.
A lack of experience in and around the first team at the club has already been clearly identified by the manager and his coaching team and the arrival of any further veterans, if they have the quality, will only boost the squad at Scunthorpe. It’s still very early days in the season and if the club do manage to put some positive results together and climb up the League Two standings, then this time, with the arrival of Howard and other veterans, could well be seen as a turning point in the campaign.