Bognor set for talks with players - but who will stay and who will go?
The Rocks management are preparing to see who they can convince to stay at the club - but Mason Walsh and Joe Tomlinson have said their Bognor byes.
Winger Walsh is off the USA as he pursues his dream of turning pro, as first revealed on this website on Tuesday, while Tomlinson is looking for a new club after being released by parent club Brighton.
Rocks boss Jack Pearce is hopeful many of the existing Nyewood Lane squad will stay for a new Bostik premier campaign.
And the club hope to unearth some new local talent at a trials day in June which will be run by coach Robbie Blake.
The club have been linked with a reunion with utility player James Crane following his release from Worthing and they have not ruled it out.
Crane, a full-back who can also operate in midfield, was with Bognor for nine years before switching to Woodside Road a year ago. He has been let go by Rebels boss Adam Hinshelwood despite being a regular in the side that went close to nabbing a Bostik premier play-off spot.
Walsh became a crowd favourite at Bognor last season and was one of the stand-out players of the season, although he was at times plagued by a hip injury.
He has played in the States before and is now set to return there for the summer to further his hopes of turning pro there.
Walsh told the Observer: “I have loved my time at the club and returning isn’t out of the question, however I don’t know when that will be. I do see myself moving to America full-time to peruse a professional career and this is a great opportunity to do that.”
Boss Pearce said: “If he returns we would be delighted to see him back at the Lane if that were to suit all parties.”
The Rocks have yet to start speaking to existing squad players about next season – chiefly they have not had 100 per cent confirmation yet they will still be in the Bostik premier division, although they don’t expect to be moved.
Left-back Tomlinson – who spent the season on loan at Bognor from Brighton – is one of seven under-23 players released by the Seagulls. A return to Bognor seems unlikely as he is Wiltshire-based and will have hopes of finding a role at a Football League or perhaps a National League club.
Pearce said he felt Tomlinson could get a deal at a Football League club and said he sent him a ‘chin up’ message as soon as he heard Brighton had let him go.
Bognor will be hoping the likes of Dan Lincoln, Calvin Davies, Keaton Wood, Chad Field, Doug Tuck and Jimmy Muitt stay for next season and are likely to talk to Pompey about whether youngsters like forwards Brad Lethbridge and Leon Maloney may be available on extended loans.
Lethbridge and Maloney – along with another Pompey trio Dan Smith, Freddie Read and Petar Durin – all contributed to the Rocks cause last season, although fans have called on the club not to be so reliant on loanees next season.