EXPERIENCED striker Karl Hawley has become manager Alan Knill's seventh summer signing ahead of Torquay United's first game of the 2013-2014 season at home to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday (3pm).
Knill has also secured an eighth new face before United face the Dons, with young Derby County forward Callum Ball, 20, joining the squad.
Knill has worked for months behind the scenes to sign Hawley, 31, who has scored more than 90 goals in a career which started at Walsall and has taken him to Carlisle, Preston, Notts County and Scunthorpe United last season.
Hawley scored 11 goals in 37 starts for the Iron during the 2012-2013 campaign, but could not prevent them from being relegated to League Two.
Hawley is a permanent signing, while a two-month loan has been agreed for Ball.
Ball spent most of last season on loan at Coventry City, where he scored three goals in three cup games and made another 15 league appearances, but he's still highly rated at Derby.
Centre-back Krystian Pearce from Notts County became United's sixth signing of the summer this week, penning a two-year deal earlier this week, but Knill has had to wait longer to sign the forwards he's needed to complete his squad.
"Physically and mentally, the players are ready for the new season," said Knill.
"We have had to be patient on many players, but especially the strikers, but it's been important to try and get them right.
‘’These signings give us four strikers and I’m delighted to have them,’’ said Alan. ‘’I know Karl really well from when I had him at Scunthorpe and he has always scored goals in his career.
‘’Karl is a proper man. When you grip his hand, it’s a proper handshake. He’s strong and powerful, and I felt we needed a little bit of experience as well.
‘’We’ve been looking for a different type of player to play with Elliot and Ash. We were let down on some but, all of a sudden, Callum has become available.
‘’I didn’t think we’d have a chance of signing him [Ball] but, fortunately for us, Derby County manager Nigel Clough has allowed him to move. Callum feels it will be a good move for himself and we’re delighted to have players of this calibre come to Torquay United. Callum is initially here on a youth loan and we will look at it again in October.
‘’Karl is a permanent signing and I’ve been speaking to him for well over two months. It’s taken a while for various reasons but we’re delighted to have him. He is a little short of match-fitness but still looks fit and strong.’’
United face a busy week ahead – they travel to League One Swindon Town in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night (7.45pm) before a longer trip to Morecambe in League Two next Saturday.
With Wimbledon expected to bring a sizeable following, United are hoping for a 3,000-plus gate on Saturday to kick off Knill's first full season in charge.
After hauling the club out of relegation trouble last Spring, Knill has seen them through an unbeaten five-game pre-season campaign.
Now for the serious stuff...