Two more names have been added to the Rocks squad for the new season – and one is another returning midfield player.
Just a week after the club revealed Darren Budd was coming back to Nyewood Lane, James Fraser is making the same switch.
Although we have Dan Beck, Doug Tuck and now Darren Budd, I think James is a different type of player.Jamie Howell
And the Rocks have also signed former Brighton youngster Jimmy Muitt, who spent last season at Lewes and is getting over a serious knee injury.
Ex-Bristol Rovers man Fraser, 27, was a key man in the Bognor midfield from 2010 to 2012 before leaving for Whitehawk – a move that upset plenty of Rocks fans.
He helped Whitehawk rise from the Ryman League to the Conference South before moving on to Lewes and Burgess Hill, both of whom he played for at Bognor last season.
Now Bognor boss Jamie Howell has tempted him back to the Lane and said: “I’ve always kept my eye on him. He did very well for us when he was here and I think he can make a difference to the squad.
“Although we have Dan Beck, Doug Tuck and now Darren Budd, I think James is a different type of player. He can play further forward, in the No10 role, and will score goals. And when you lose players like Jason Prior and, to a degree, Alfie Rutherford, you need to think about where your goals will come from.”
Howell said both he and Fraser were aware his move to Whitehawk in the season in which the Rocks got promoted from Ryman one south caused some bad feeling among fans, but felt this could be forgotten if he came back and did well for the team.
“I don’t think James’ move was any different to that of Kane Wills or Jason Prior, really. It happens in football – players move on, often for more money.
“James was at a stage where he needed a new challenge and I think this will be a good move for him and for us.”
Muitt, 20, came through the youth ranks at Brighton and came to the Rocks’ attention when he played for the Seagulls in a 4-2 Sussex Senior Cup defeat at Bognor in Feburary 2014.
Howell said: “He’s another we’ve looked at long-term. He had a serious knee injury last season and may not be fully fit when he starts with us. But he has a good pedigree and can play through the middle or wide. He will suit us.”
The signings of Fraser and Muitt, after Budd’s recruitment last week, leave Howell content with how the squad is coming together.
With the likes James Crane, Harvey Whyte, Sami El Abd, Beck, Tuck, Gary Charman, Alex Parsons and now Ollie Pearce having committed to the club for 2016-17, the mass exodus some feared after Craig Robson, Prior, Rutherford and Stuart Green left has not happened.
Howell is still looking for a couple of additions including another striker but has high hopes for Pearce in the new campaign.
“Ollie didn’t have as much impact last season as he’d had previously but he is still a young man and will be very keen to step up next season. He is certainly someone who could step up now that other forwards have left.”
Left-back Daryl Wollers is another player looking to be a Rocks regular.
He struggled to get back in the side last season after getting over long-term injury but Howell said: “He’s fit and is another excellent player to have around the place. He will want to be playing.”
The Rocks return to pre-season training on Friday, July 1, and are due to play their first friendly at Chichester City on Monday, July 18.
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