The Rocks have assured fans work is well under way to mould the squad for next season – and have revealed they are to run the rule over a Gibraltar under-21 international.
It’s been a pretty quiet start to the close season at Nyewood Lane and fans are anxious that moves to tie down existing and new members of the squad are completed sooner rather than later.
Manager Jack Pearce said he understood fans’ thirst for progress but they should be assured that the club was working to keep the majority of the core squad from last season while strengthening in key areas.
Pearce and coach Robbie Blake will run the rule over Gibraltar under-21 midfielder Jack Breed in pre-season with a view to signing him.
Breed, 19, is keen for a switch to Nyewood Lane after spending last season with Wessex League premier outfit AFC Portchester.
The University of Chichester student, who has earned five caps for his national side, is one of a number of potential new signings for the Rocks.
Pearce said: “Jack comes highly recommended to us and we are hopeful he can bring his qualities to the squad. He’ll join us when we come back in for training and we can take a closer look at hime.”
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In terms of players already at Bognor, there has been talk of goalkeeper Dan Lincoln moving on although Pearce said he did know of anything concrete.
And fans are worried other clubs may come in for the Rocks’ top scorer last season, Jimmy Muitt.
Bognor have already bid farewell to winger Mason Walsh – who has headed to the United States to pursue his dream of turning pro – while left-back Joe Tomlinson seems unlikely to return on loan having been released by his parent club Brighton.
Muitt, midfielder Doug Tuck, defenders Calvin Davies, Keaton Wood and Chad Field and skipper Harvey Whyte are among core players they are keen to keep at the Lane ahead of a more sustained bid for promotion from the Bostik premier division in 2019-20.
New recruits will be needed too with another striker a leading priority. But the Rocks have not ruled dipping into the loan market again and using the good relationship they have clubs such as Pompey and Brighton, with Fratton Park forwads Brad Lethbridge and Leon Maloney both on the Bognor radar after successful loan spells last season.
Pearce said: “There should be developments in the next week or so. We’re positive about where we are. We are reasonably confident that most of those we want to stay will stay.
“With players like Jimmy (Muitt), there will always be other clubs interested in proven goalscorers but we hope Jimmy with stay with us.
“You will often lose one or two who you don’t want to but we have also identified targets we’d like to bring in.”
Coach Robbie Blake is champing at the bit for the start of pre-season training even though it’s still a shade over three weeks away. And he is confident the club can put a competitive squad together who can do much better than last term’s 14th-placed finish.
Blake told the Observer: “Hopefully the lads are getting re-energised and will come back sharp and in good shape.
“In terms of players Jack and I speak regularly and know what we want to do. It’s vital we keep as many core players as we can, add two or three new core players and then perhaps bring in some more around the fringes.
“We need to be in better shape next season and I believe we will be.
“Before we come back for pre-season we have our trials day and I’m very much looking forward to that. We have nothing to lose really – if we get one or two players out of it, or even a handful, it will be a bonus.”