Aldershot Town have signed Tom Richards on a one-year contract.
The versatile defender and midfielder rejoins The Shots after impressing in a loan spell from Fulham between February and April 2015. The 20 year-old from Guildford had been a regular in The Whites’ Under 21 side last season, having joined the club in 2011, but has left Craven Cottage at the end of a three year professional deal.
Richards showed great pace and work-ethic in nine appearances for The Shots, in playing at left-back and on both left and right wings, having also played ten games on loan at AFC Wimbledon between February and May 2014.
“This is the best move for my career right now,” said Richards. “Barry had a lot of good things to say when we met last week, and I think this is my best opportunity to get game time. He’s good pals with my old coach at Fulham (Peter Grant), they’ve been talking about me, and he’s said good things about Barry.
“Some people have told me that I’m better than National League level, but here is the best chance for me to play regular football. The most important thing for me this year is to play games – as nice as it was being at Fulham, I want to be playing first-team football.
“I’m only 20 years old but I do have a bit of experience, and I can’t wait to get started. Even when I came here last season, I felt that we were much better than our league position suggested, so I definitely think that we should be challenging for the Play-Offs.”
“Tom knows the Club and has had a good upbringing at Fulham,” said Barry Smith. “He’s wanting to do well but he knows that he has to play week in, week out. That’s the challenge for these players, to make sure they are in that team, and I’m challenging them to make sure that they are in the team, because that’s the way I’ll get the best out of them.
“We’ve got guys that are hungry and enthusiastic about coming to Aldershot Town to play. That’s what I want. To have got these players on board, I think I’m further on (with building my squad) than I would have expected at this time of year. I’m happy that we’ve got the start of a squad but I also want to be adding more in the coming weeks.”