AFC players sign up for next season

AFC Sudbury’s play-off dream may have evaporated over the final games, but the omens look good for next season after nine of the starting 11 from the last home game have already signed contracts.

Management duo Nicky Smith and Chris Tracey, who themselves have both penned 18-month contract extensions, have convinced the majority of the team that almost beat second-placed finishers Needham Market to stay on for another shot at promotion.

And the club will sit down with Jack Wignall and Dubi Ogbonna to ensure the stability of a fixed squad, surely the key ingredient for Smith to better seventh place and a better crack at achieving step three football. Smith, whose side drew 1-1 with FC Clacton in their final match on Saturday, thanks to Jame Baker’s 24th league goal, said: “I am looking at bringing in three players really, as best as I can with what the budget allows.

“Obviously we need a defender and I would like another midfiedler and a striker, someone to partner Bakes and take the goal burden off him a bit.”

Baker, Dave Wareham and Michael Shinn’s signatures have now been joined by captain Sam Clarke, supporters’ player-of-the-year Jemel Fox, teenage goalkeeper Fred Howe, Tom Devaux, Ryan Henshaw, Liam Whittaker, Robbie Martin and Dan Emmanuel.

But there may be a few players leaving to allow Smith to bring in his top summer targets.

“I have already been talking to the players about who I want to get in and it might be that three are leaving the squad,” said Smith, who will get his players back for pre-season training in late June or early July.