Halstead chief feels Murray could be a surprise package

NEW POSITION: James Murray is set to be handed a strikers role as Halstead Town rejig after losing five first-team players in the close season

NEW POSITION: James Murray is set to be handed a strikers role as Halstead Town rejig after losing five first-team players in the close season

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Halstead Town manager Mark Benterman has backed James Murray to be the division’s top scorer following Jordan Palmer’s exit from the club.

The Thurlow Nunn League First Division promotion hopefuls have seen 21-goal Palmer, who was sixth in the league’s goalscorer charts, go on trial with Ryman One North outfit Heybridge Swifts as one of a quartet joining up with higher-league clubs.

Goalkeeper Jack Cherry has been training with AFC Sudbury, while striker Adam Brotherton and Jules Simon-Parsons are now with Essex Senior League Premier Division side Bowers and Pitsea.

“They have all gone on to bigger and better things and development is what the club is here for and shows how far we have come,” said Benterman, who feels converting 23-year-old Murray from a midfielder, where he scored twice from 23 league appearances in 2013/14, to a striker will pay off. “James Murray will be a surprise package for us this season and I would put money on him getting 20-plus goals and think he will be the leading goalscorer in the division.

“He played up front in a couple of games last season and was man of the match in both and if he believes in himself he can not just go on to make Ryman One, but Conference South.”

Another highly-rated youngster, 17-year-old centre-back or right-back Ian Foulger, who made 21 league appearances last season, has decided to seek out new opportunities in the USA, with Benterman believing he will be drafted into the MLS League within a few years.

“I am surprised he was not picked up by a professional club here,” he said.

After they returned to training on Saturday with more than 40 players, the Humbugs manager believes he has already managed to fill the departures and is hopeful of being able to name ‘three or four’ new signings after forms are signed at the weekend.

n Hadleigh United return to training on Tuesday with manager Stuart Crawford set to run the rule over triallists in their first pre-season match at home to Colchester United Under-21s on July 12 (3pm) before making any confirmed additions.

One player who will not be filling the boots of top scorer Josh Mayhew, who has moved to Ryman Premier newboys Witham Town via Brightlingsea Regent, is Walsham-le-Willows’ hotshot Andrew Wood, who has turned them down to stay at Summer Road.

Crawford also revealed his retained title winners could still move on after only signing non-contract agreements.

“If a club comes in from them from the Ryman League and they want to push on, they have got a chance to go,” he said.

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