With the signing of Darryl Coakley, manager Mark Morsley believes he has put another building block in place as he plots the route to achieving AFC Sudbury’s medium and long-term ambitions.
The former Cambridge United left-back has become the fifth player this term to follow Morsley to AFC from Bostik League Premier Division side Needham Market, putting pen to paper on a two-year deal.
A defender with 233 appearances under his belt for Needham, Coakley’s quality in and out of possession is well known throughout the area.
And like many of the other recent arrivals, Morsley is confident his latest addition will be comfortable mentoring the club’s younger squad members.
“Darryl, Billy Holland, Joe Whight, Phil Kelly and Ryan Horne have all comfortably played at Step Three level,” said Morsley.
“That is important because the medium-term aim here is to get promotion up to that level and then hopefully move on from there.
“But these are also players that are prepared to give something back.
“A lot of non-league footballers would turn their noses up if they are asked to play alongside 16 and 17-year-olds — none of the lads I have got in would do that.
“I want players that have won things, are loyal, dedicated and will act as mentors on the pitch — Darryl ticks all of the boxes.
“His range of passing from 10 to 70 yards is some of the best I have seen in the non-league game.
“He is a loyal and bright lad. It is the right signing at the right time and another piece of our jigsaw.”
Coakley is set to make his AFC debut during Saturday’s home encounter against Waltham Abbey (3pm).
There has been very little to split the two teams this season, with 11th-placed Sudbury just one place and two points better off than the visitors in the Bostik League North Division.
They played out a 2-2 draw in November’s reverse fixture and Morsley is anticipating another tight fixture.
“They are a technically good side that like to play football,” added the Sudbury chief.
“It should suit them coming down to our place and playing on our pitch.
“It should be an even game and there was not much between us down there, but we are more of a solid team now — hopefully that will make the difference.”
Phil Kelly — the match winner in Sudbury’s last two outings against Maldon & Tiptree and Heybridge Swifts — is likely to miss the contest with a hamstring injury, while Ryan Horne may also be absent with a thigh muscle problem.