BURTON Albion boss Gary Rowett is expected to complete the signing of a central defender in the next 36 hours — but it will not be Youl Mawene.
The 32-year-old former Derby County defender, left, had been training with the Brewers since they returned to pre-season training 11 days ago, but was the surprise omission as Albion took on Premier League side Aston Villa in their opening friendly at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday.
After the game, Rowett revealed he had cooled his interest in the Frenchman — a former player of the season both with the Rams and Preston North End — but said he was expecting to complete the signing of a central defender early this week.
The Brewers boss said: “Youl’s trained with us all week and he’s done great.
“He’s a terrific character, but I just said to him ‘look, I don’t think that at this moment in time he’s quite what I’m looking for’, so we’ve allowed him to see what he wants to do.
“We’ve left the door open for him if he wants to come and train further, but we won’t be taking it any further.”
Mawene is looking for a new club after being released by Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen.
Rowett said: “We’re a couple of days away from taking someone in that position, so I just felt as though it was fair to let people know.”
Asked if he was talking about someone involved in the Villa game, Rowett said: “quite possibly, yeah.”
That player is thought to be Marcus Holness, who has been released by Rochdale, where he played alongside current Brewers defender Nathan Stanton when they won promotion from League Two in 2009/10.
Holness, who is 23 and scored an own goal on Saturday as Villa beat the Brewers 2-1, has also been training with Albion since they reported back.
He made 126 appearances for Dale in almost five years, scoring four goals.
Rowett ran the rule over a host of other trialists on Saturday and said afterwards that any one of them was a potential signing.
However, he said the club are still trying to determine what kind of players are needed to fit around those already at the club.
He said: “At the end of the day, anyone that’s on this pitch, there’s a view to signing them because I’m not gonna do people favours and just let them come and train — we could have had 50 teams out there if we’d have done that.
“Anyone we’ve got training or anyone that’s out on the pitch is being viewed seriously as a possible signing.
“I think what’s difficult at the moment is, because there’s three or four new players we’ve got, it’s trying to get exactly what we need around them.
“We’re still learning about them let alone what we need to play with them, but I thought there were some good performances.”
One who did stand out was midfielder Lee Bell, who played the whole of the second half as both clubs fielded two separate teams.
Bell, 29, made 18 appearances in two separate loan spells with the Brewers when they were in the Conference and is looking for a new club after being released by Crewe Alexandra, who he helped win promotion from League Two last season.
Said Rowett: “I thought Lee Bell did very well.
“He took a really nasty knock about five minutes into it and he was struggling all through the half, but he breaks things up and he just keeps the ball moving, so he did excellent.”
One of Rowett’s new signings, former Tranmere Rovers midfielder Robbie Weir, gave the Brewers the lead after just nine minutes on Saturday, rifling home a stunning 30-yard effort which left Villa keeper Andy Marshall rooted to the spot.
However, Holness inadvertently turned the ball past Brewers keeper Ross Atkins on 42 minutes as he tried to prevent Villa striker Andreas Weimann latching on to Enda Stevans’ left-wing cross.
Both sides had chances to win it in the second half, but the Premier League side, who dominated possession, finally made it count seven minutes from time when new signing Brett Holman curled home a delightful shot past second-half keeper Dean Lyness.
Rowett was delighted with his side’s first run-out of pre-season, saying: “Yeah, there’s lots of good things.
“I think it’s always very, very difficult to judge too much.
“I’ve just said to the players in there, you’re playing against players and a team there that’s probably gonna be a million miles away from what we’re up against first game of the season, so it makes the game a little bit different.
“I think what was quite nice really, we worked on being solid and building our play from the back in terms of our shape, and it gave us a good opportunity to do that.
“We didn’t have an awful lot of the ball, but that’s always gonna be the case.
“We saw some good things, saw a lot of good discipline, you know, I thought some of the new players did terrifically well, so I’m really pleased.
“Listen, we probably wouldn’t have ever played against a side quite that strong in pre-season would we?
“To have two teams like that, so it was a fantastic workout.
“And you think we weren’t a million miles away from drawing the game.”
Rowett was pleased with the contributions of new signings Weir, Zander Diamond and Damien McCrory, who all saw 45 minutes of action.
“It’s quite nice that isn’t it when you sign someone (Weir) and they do something like that, but he’s a good player and I think that, so far, all the players that we’ve brought in are good players, which is what we’re trying to do.”