INFLUENTIAL midfield player Tom Whelan has agreed a new deal to stay with the Whites for the new season.
Tom, 20, joined the club from Poole Town last season and played a key role in the Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division title win and run to the FA Vase semi-final, winning the Supporters Club Young Player of the Year award.
"I'm delighted Tom has agreed to stay," said Whites manager Steve Claridge. "He is a talented player more than capable of stepping up to Evo-Stik Southern League South and West Division."
Tom's commitment means that Steve's squad is nearing completion two weeks ahead of the first friendly against Bristol Rovers at the Ray Mac on July 9th and six weeks before the big league kick-off on August 6th.
"We're not far away," said Steve. "I've still got one or two slots I want to fill. We need a bit more up front, for example.
"But we've got irons in the fire and I will be looking at quite a few triallists in the pre-season friendlies.
"The good thing is that so many of last season's squad that we wanted to keep are returning and we've added quality players like Justin Bennett, Lewis Benson and Josh Warren.
"Now is not the time to be hasty and just get players in. I want to see who's available still come pre-season because there may well be some bargains still out there.
"What I am not going to do is pay over the odds for anyone. There are a couple I have been interested in but they wanted too much and have gone elsewhere.
"We will get the right players at the right price, players who buy into what we are looking to achieve, and I know we are going to be competitive again."
The squad return to training on Saturday July 2nd but Steve has made it clear to the players what he expects.
"I've spoken to all of them and told them that I expect them to return with a good level of fitness already.
"Pre-season will not be about getting players fit. They should already have been working on that over the summer.
"What pre-season is about is playing matches and getting them match-sharp ready to hit the ground running."