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Boro plans are taking shape
Eastbourne Borough boss Tommy Widdrington admits he would be keen to bring Stacy Long back to the club on a permanent deal.
Widdrington would also like to keep former Fulham and Leicester forward Elvis Hammond, who made a big impact in the second half of last season.
But Charlie Gorman and Chris Shephard are leaving due to work and personal reasons.
Goalkeeper Craig Ross and Lewis Tallack could be on their way too.
Both were offered new deals but are considering moves away from the club and Widdrington has told any players yet to commit themselves to either sign or alternatives will be sought.
Borough made excellent progress under Widdrington in 2013-14, finishing tenth in his second full campaign at the club but challenging for the play-offs for much of the season before falling away in the last month.
That was achieved despite a significant budget cut last summer.
The budget remains the same for next season and Widdrington has made it clear he wants to retain the core of the side that did so well for him.
Eleven players were offered deals to stay at the club at the end of the season. Skipper Ian Simpemba was already under contract for 2014-15 while five players – Adam Watts, Matt Aldred, Simon Johnson, Elliott Levy and Darren Lok – have accepted terms to remain at Priory Lane.
Ollie Rowe and Sam Cole were both released and have since joined Lewes.
Widdrington has already spoken to a number of potential new signings and is looking to finalise his squad as early as he can.
Gorman and Shephard have been regulars for the last two seasons, Ross and Tallack enjoyed excellent debut campaigns at the club while Hammond, who cost Leicester £250,000 when they signed him from Fulham in 2005, hit seven goals in 20 games after signing in January.
Widdrington said: “I made offers to a number of players and 80% of them have been positive.
“There are one or two who are waiting longer, having a look around which I can understand, but I have told them I want to hear back by the end of the week otherwise I will start offering things to people outside of the club.
“It is unlikely Charlie Gorman will come back due to work commitments. He has now got to work five days a week with a family business.
“I would like Craig to stay but I need an answer. It is an important position and I have alternatives in mind.
“With Elvis Hammond, I plan to speak to him. I spoke to him at the end of the season and he is on my list to speak to again. He will be welcome back here.
“Chris Shephard is likely to be moving back to the South West to take up a coaching role in a school.
“There are five or six (potential new players) I have made offers to, including one who was at the club before I was here, and I have agreed a deal with one player.”
Former Notts County, Stevenage and AFC Wimbledon midfielder Long impressed on loan at Priory Lane last season, scoring three goals in 17 appearances.
The one-time England under-20 international has since been released by Ebbsfleet.
Widdrington said: “I plan to speak to Stacy. He would be welcome back. Whether we can make that happen we will see but he did well for us.”
The Borough boss is considering an addition to his coaching staff and has also made it clear he wants the cream of the club’s youngsters to be involved again.
Ryan Worrall, Richie Welch and Max Taylor all made their first team debuts last season.
Widdrington said: “I had a long meeting with Jay (Lovett, academy manager) and I have another meeting planned with him. The lads who broke through, like Ryan and Richie, are definitely starting back pre-season with us, which is a month earlier than the academy starts.
“There are three or four in that group who showed enough physically that they can be part of the squad. That doesn’t mean they will be starting the season but they are part of things. It is something Jay is in agreement with.”
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