The Chattanooga Red Wolves looked a little different in this week’s Friday practice. Part of that was due to the team practicing on the grass field adjacent to their customary turf field in preparation for their road matchup against Tormenta FC. The Georgian squad plays on real grass, and coach Tim Hankinson and the team was preparing accordingly.
However, a new player was also running through drills in the humid morning heat with the team. The Red Wolves signed Scottish forward Greg Hurst for the rest of the season, a lanky and fast playmaker who will hopefully add some much-needed punch to the team’s iffy attack.
“Once we saw the league open up, we felt that adding some younger players, that have pace and quickness is an element that we probably needed to bring in, and he has all of that,” said coach Hankinson, “He’s also technically very gifted, when it comes to handling the ball and getting a shot off, so I think that he can help get goals for others, and I think he can get goals for himself. That kind of piece added at this point in the season makes us better.”
When asked about his first practice in Southeast Tennessee, Hurst gave credit to his new teammates, saying, “It went really good. I really enjoyed it. It’s really difficult coming to a new club and trying to get to know the boys, but thankfully, I’ve got boys like Steven Beattie and boys like that who helped me before I even came over.”
While the coach expects the Scottish forward to see some playing time against Tormenta, Red Wolves fans won’t see him in the starting lineup on Saturday.
“I suspect he will probably come into the game. He’s still working on his fitness and adjusting to the climate. It’s quite different,” said the coach, “So I wouldn’t say any more than 20 or 25 minutes. But we certainly want to get him out on the field.”
Hurst, who hasn’t played in a while and is more accustomed to the cooler weather of Scotland, has no qualms with coming off the bench. When asked about what he wanted to improve, Hurst mentioned improving his endurance as a top priority.
“I would say fitness, because coming from Scotland, my season finished months ago,” said Hurst, “So coming over here, having not played any games for a couple months, and these boys are coming into the end of their season, there’s a big fitness gap. That’s something I’m really hoping to work on.”
After making some lineup adjustments prior to last week’s victory against North Texas, coach Hankinson may have found a group of players that work well together. Steven Beattie replaced Ami Pineda in the midfield, and two of the forwards were switched out.
“When you have success with a lineup, you tend to not make major adjustments and you give it another run. If the game is going well, you tend to go with that group,” said the coach.
The match kicks off at 8 p.m, and can be viewed on ESPN+.