LEAM Richardson believes new signing James Beattie can add an extra presence to the Accrington Stanley forward line – after seeing his own defence bulldozed by Northampton on Saturday.

Former Southampton, Everton and England striker Beattie has joined Stanley in a player-coach role and is expected to make his debut at Barnet on Friday after his clearance did not come through in time to face Northampton.

The Reds slipped to a 4-2 home defeat, when powerhouse forward Adebayo Akinfenwa netted a hat-trick for Aidy Boothroyd’s direct Cobblers.

Beattie, who started his coaching role at the weekend, is likely to offer rather more to his game on the field than the sheer brute strength of Akinfenwa. But Richardson will be happy if the 34-year-old has the same sort of impact as he works his way up to match fitness after six months without a club.

“James Beattie is a lot different to Ade Akinfenwa, he’s a lot more mobile, but it’s that presence that we’ve kind of needed,” Richardson said. “He has come in for a number of things, to give the lads confidence and his experience, and obviously on the pitch first and foremost he’ll be very effective once he’s fit.

“For him to be around the place is fantastic, and if he can be that effective for us it will be great.

“If we can get him fit, get him to stay fit and have the influence that he’s had already, it will be great for us.”

Richardson’s defence of Dean Winnard, Peter Murphy, Rob Atkinson and Lee Molyneux struggled to cope with Akinfenwa’s power on Saturday but the Reds boss thinks the quartet – with an average of age of only 23 – will learn from the experience.

“We worked on it all week, it’s not new to us, he’s been around the league for a good few years, he’s very effective at doing what he does,” Richardson said of Akinfenwa.

“There are a few teams like that and they’re effective with it.

“You come up against different things and it’s a good learning curve for Peter, Rob, Dean and Lee.

“The lads were really down after the game, nobody likes losing – especially when they put that much effort in.

“I’ll never have a problem with them if they offer that.”

n Jack Sampson has returned to Bolton at the end of his loan spell with Stanley.