Keeping Elliott is top priority

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Eastbourne Borough boss Tommy Widdrington has admitted he is optimistic and hopeful the club can keep hold of top-scorer Elliott Charles for next season.

The lofty striker joined the Sports in the middle of the season after impressing while playing against them for lower-league Hendon in the FA Cup.

He has since scored 14 goals in 26 appearances, including a brace on the last day of the season to help the side, who were reduced to ten men after the dismissal of Gary Hart, to a 2-0 home victory over Staines.

Talks have already began to try and get Charles to pen a new deal to keep him at Priory Lane for the 2013/14 season and Widdrington is hopeful all the loose ends will be tied up by the end of the week.

He said, “Elliott’s been very important for us. He had a dip in the middle of his spell here where he picked up a hamstring injury after a fantastic start, but to still get 14 goals in 20 or so appearances is no mean feat.

“If he’d been in the same form over double the number of games, that number of goals would make a huge difference to your points total.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, though. He’s already made a step up and seems to have found a club that works well for him.

“I’m meeting with his representative this week and we hope he makes the right decision but I’m not going to put all my eggs in one basket.”

As well as securing the services of Charles, Widdrington hopes to have as many as a dozen players signed on for next season before the weekend.

Seven names have already pledged their immediate future to Priory Lane, including captain Ollie Rowe and goalkeeper Danny Potter.

Adam Watts, Charlie Gorman, Frankie Raymond, Chris Shephard and Darren Lok complete the septet.

However, the Borough boss has admitted he’s already decided a number of other players he’d like to keep on his roster and now that the season is done and dusted, is stepping up the contract talks with his players.

“All the lads that have finished this season, I’m hoping to speak to by the end of the week.

“The current members of the squad that have been involved this season, I’d like to get tied up as quickly as possible before they all go their separate ways for holidays and the like.

“By Friday, I’m hoping to try and get a dozen or so of the players to re-engage. Whether they do or not is up to them but I’m fairly confident we’ll have ten or twelve more on board.

“I don’t want to sound too confident but it seems positive.

“A lot will depend on my meeting with the Chairman on Friday. Of course I’ll have my targets but the budget goes up and down, so I’ll need to discuss that first.”

After a 2-0 home victory over Staines on the final day of the season, the Sports finished the season 12th in the Blue Square South table on 51 points - six places and six points better off than last year.

And Widdrington believes this shows the progress his side has made over a learning curve of a year.

He said, “I’m pleased we got the home win for the fans and moved up to where we deserve to be in the table.

“To go from 18th on 45 points to 12th with 51 points in the space of 12 months is a great improvement so I’m really pleased overall.

“Some people may say we’re only there because Farnborough were deducted points but they didn’t do it the right way, we did. Nobody helped us, we’ve got to where we are on merit and nothing else.

“Over the season, there has been a lot of changes but once I’ve brought a player into the club, it’s not often I let them go.

“There’s about 12 or so players that have made 20 or more appearances for me and I think that shows we’ve got a lot more stability than people think.

“There have been problems we’ve identified over the season, like conceding late goals that cost us points, but we’ve worked on them and made sure they’re not a problem any more, which is brilliant from my point of view. We’ve learnt a lot.”