AFC Sudbury chairman Phil Turner has reassured fans the club remain serious about promotion despite five players and the assistant manager leaving.
Following early exits in both lucrative cup competitions, the FA Cup and FA Trophy, striker Dave Bryant, defenders Ian Cousins and Eljay Worrell and former Football League midfielder Ben Smith have all been released.
Fellow high-profile midfielder Ben Bowditch was also allowed to leave before Saturday’s commendable 1-1 draw at fourth-placed Tilbury, after it became apparent assistant manager Barry Lakin had misreported his loan deal from Canvey Island being extended in last week’s Free Press.
Chris Tracey’s assistant has also left the club by ‘mutual agreement’ but Turner believes they are as ready for promotion as ever following the changes.
“I can quite categorically say our aims remain the same,” he told the Free Press.
“While we have released a number of players I think the squad is more than capable of getting promoted still.
“We have got some excellent players there and three senior players (Sam Clare, James Baker and Lee Boylan) to come into the squad who have been injured.”
With 19 players still left in the first-team squad, and 18-year-old former Peterborough United goalkeeper Alex Archer having joined the reserves after being released as Needham Market’s number one, the chairman believed the top-heavy squad had to be cut, although also mentioned the cup exits.
“With the size and the shape of the squad and who the players were, and having gone out of the cup in the last games we should have won, we just decided to make some changes,” he said.
Turner said claims on Twitter this week by midfielder Michael Shinn the players had been told they would have to drive themselves to games from now on, instead of get a club coach, were misleading.
He said the club did not put on a coach for the Wednesday game at Ilford due so many of the players being based in Essex, but said coaches would be put on for future games and players would be reimbursed for travel expenses as usual for when they were required to drive.
Of Lakin’s departure, he said: “Barry mutally agreed he would leave to do something else and there was no animosity there.
“We are looking at the moment (for a replacement), probably not someone from outside the club, but Chris will probably need someone to work alongside him.”
Early pacesetter Potters Bar Town, in action at strugglers Ilford last night, visit The Mel Group Stadium on Saturday (3pm) for AFC’s first home game in five weeks.
The Yellows, currently in 11th place, three points off the play-offs, then travel to Ram Meadow to Ryman Premier side Bury Town on Tuesday (7.45pm) in the first round of the Suffolk Premier Cup.