MARK Collier is hoping that he’s strengthened his Chippenham Town squad at the perfect time, just as the Bluebirds are soaring.

Yesterday evening, Chippenham announced the signing of 21-year-old frontman Ben Whitehead from Wantage Town, as well as young Bristol Rovers midfielder Jay Malpas on a month’s loan.

Former Swindon Town academy youngster Whitehead, who has also had spells with Swindon Supermarine and Didcot Town, and had been playing alongside Collier’s son Sam at Wantage, has hit 19 goals in all competitions so far this season for the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South & strugglers.

Meanwhile, versatile 18-year-old Malpas will help provide injury cover for Luke Ballinger, who is currently sidelined with a recurrence of a calf injury, and the Hardenhuish Park chief has his fingers crossed that his double swoop will only boost his promotion-chasing troops, who sit just two points off the top of the Premier Division table.

“A lot of teams at the top of the table will be strengthening their squads but we’re mindful that we’ve got a good group of players at the moment and we don’t want to rock that boat,” said Collier.

“Ben Whitehead is someone that we’ve watched a few times and he’s scored a lot of goals in the league below.

“Wantage were desperate to keep him because they’re fighting to stay up and they might well have done with Ben Whitehead’s goals but you always say to players that they have to take the opportunity to play at the highest level they can when they get the chance.

“The challenge for him now is to try and break into our side.

“Jay is a first-year pro at Bristol Rovers and he’s highly-rated. We’ve got an abundance of left-sided players at the club but we were actually lacking right-sided ones.

“Jay can play anywhere down the right side of midfield and also behind the front two. With Luke Ballinger injured, he’ll help with that situation too.

“We looked at it in training and we had 19 players there, so you’re thinking ‘how are we going to fit them all in?’ but injuries happen and we’ve got Matt Smith, who is one booking away from a two-match ban, so we’re covering for every eventuality.”

Both Whitehead and Malpas are available for Chippenham’s home clash with King’s Lynn Town tomorrow.