THERE will be a number of new faces at AFC Sudbury next season, and one player will be making a welcome return to The MEL Group Stadium.
Defenders Bradley Thomas, Eljay Worrell and Lauris Coggin are joining the club, and midfielder Craig Bussens, on loan to AFC during the 2008-9 season, will be back.
Thomas was with Grays Athletic for two seasons, after moving from Concord Rangers, and scored the winning goal in the club’s 2-1 victory at Sudbury in March. The central defender made 53 appearances, scoring six goals, for the club and captained Grays in the second half of last season,
Worrell moved from Grays to Tilbury in October last year, and the left back was a regular in the team that reached the Ryman League North play-offs, scoring in the 4-3 defeat by Needham Market in the semi-finals.
Coggin started out with Southend United, and since then he has turned out for Team Bath, Frome Town, Witham Town, Heybridge Swifts and Brentwood Town.
Bussens, who has played at Cambridge United, Cambridge City and Lowestoft, spent part of last season with Needham Market. He made 47 appearances for AFC in 2008-9, scoring seven goals.
Manager Chris Tracey had further good news for supporters as several of last season’s squad have now agreed deals for the coming season.
James Baker, who scored 23 goals for AFC Sudbury last season, and was named in the Ryman League North team of the season, has agreed a one-year deal. Baker, who missed most of pre-season training last year, will be there from the start on July 3, and Tracey hopes that this will help to boost the targetman’s goal tally next season. Baker has turned down offers from other clubs to stay with AFC.
Also back in time for pre-season training is Rhys Darg, who has now finished his spell in Swedish football, and will be available for the entire season.
Other players who have signed one-year deals are central defenders Adam Dalby and James Smith, midfielders Michael Shinn, Russell Pond and Sam Clarke. Danny Emmanuel has also agreed to stay.
“Things are now looking up,” said Tracey. “It was a bit slow at first, but we have been talking to players and gradually getting them on board.”
Talks are continuing with a number of other players, but Tracey acknowledges that Leiston, Lowestoft and Needham tend to have greater pulling power. “We always used to look to Ipswich-based players, but things have changed,” he said.
Tracey, who is not taking a summer holiday, will be inviting a number of players for pre-season training, which starts on July 3. “We might just unearth someone,” he said. “Signing a name doesn’t always guarantee success.”