Eastbourne Borough are adding Jay Lovett to their squad ahead of the new Conference south season.
The 36-year-old, who is full-time academy manager at Priory Lane, was without a club since leaving Lewes at the end of last season.
However, now he is signing up as a player with the club where he made 147 league appearances from 2006 to 2009.
Lovett made his debut for Lewes as a 16-year-old before joining Plymouth Argyle and he later had spells at Crawley Town, Brentford and Hereford United.
He rejoined Lewes in 2003 and was part of the club’s rise under Steven King before joining Borough. Later he played for Whitehawk, Horsham, Tooting and Mitcham and Met Police before returning for a third stint with Lewes last season.
Despite being a regular in the side under Garry Wilson in 2013-14, Lovett felt his chances of regular football were limited going into the new campaign and decided to look elsewhere.
He was a surprise inclusion for Borough’s opening pre-season friendly at Eastbourne United last Saturday and appeared again away to Crawley Down Gatwick on Tuesday.
While he is now respected as a coach with his work with Borough’s academy as well as Albion Ladies and Crawley’s academy before that, Lovett is not ready to call time on his playing days yet and Borough boss Tommy Widdrington believes he could be a useful member of the squad for the season ahead.
Widdrington said: “Jay is a full-time employee of the club as our academy manager and he is there for me to use. That is what I am doing at the moment.
“He is someone who we are going to register as a player. Whether he will play every game, we will see.
“He has certainly showed in the games he has played that his fitness levels are excellent.
“His knowledge and ability is there for all to see.”
Borough’s pre-season preparations continue at Tonbridge Angels today, after which Widdrington will make a decision on some of the trialists already at the club.
Other players will get a chance to impress in forthcoming games away to Hastings on Tuesday, at Burgess Hill next Saturday, then Matt Smart’s testimonial at Leatherhead on July 30 before the only home game against Lewes on August 2.
Widdrington’s squad has undergone more changes than the manager would have wanted this summer with at least six players he wanted to keep having left the club.
Two of them – Frankie Raymond (Dagenham and Redbridge) and Charlie Gorman (Welling United) – have gone to a higher level of football while Chris Shephard, Elvis Hammond, Lewis Tallack and Craig Ross have left for a variety of personal and football reasons.
Ollie Rowe, Sam Cole, Jack Deaman and James Stinson have also departed from last season’s squad.
So far five players have been signed aside from Lovett in goalkeeper Lewes Carey (Tonbridge Angels), Sam Beale (Brentford), Gavin McCallum (Sutton), Richard Pacquette (Maidenhead) and Charlie Losasso (Bournemouth).
Other players will arrive over the next couple of weeks. As well as ability, Widdrington will demand from them the dedication and commitment Lovett has shown in more than 20 years of playing the game.
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