United squad taking shape

Hastings United manager Terry White says he is “60 to 70 per cent” of the way to finalising the football club’s squad for next season.

Sam Cruttwell (right) has become the latest first team regular to commit to Hastings United for next season. Picture by Steve Cobb (SUS-140417-185756002)
Sam Cruttwell (right) has become the latest first team regular to commit to Hastings United for next season. Picture by Steve Cobb (SUS-140417-185756002)

A clutch of notable names have already verbally committed themselves to a United side hellbent on promotion from Ryman Football League Division One South.

White said: “Things are coming along quite nicely. There’s still quite a bit of work to be done, but I’ve tried to get a good bit of my business done early and I’ve probably got 12-14 players already committed for next year.

“I’m probably between 60 or 70 per cent (of the way to finalising his squad) I would imagine. I’m still working to get three or four more in to add to what we had last year.

“I’m on the phone every day really. It’s been hard work and I’ve put a lot of hours in, but that’s what you have to do; you can’t sit back and wait for players to come to you.”

White already has a number of attacking options with Ade Olorunda having confirmed his intention to return to the club, and Frankie Sawyer, Kenny Pogue and Sam Adams set to remain on board. Jacob Shelton, who played for United’s under-21s and Bexhill United’s first team last term, is also set to try his luck.

In midfield, winger Taser Hassan and central midfielder Tim Olorunda are set to stay, while Dave Cook - who was the division’s leading scorer in 2012/13 while at Hythe Town - has agreed to come on board.

Sam Cruttwell, who played mainly at full-back in the second half of last term but is also an option in midfield, has become the latest regular to commit himself.

Supporters’ player of the season, goalkeeper Josh Pelling, is set to stay put, while defender Sean Ray is coming back and White is closing in on Horsham centre-half Jahmahl King.

“I’m very close to getting Jahmahl King,” said White. “I’m just waiting to dot the Is and cross the Ts. The deal’s done financially so it’s just a case of him ringing and saying ‘I’ve spoken to my boss at Horsham, let’s go’.”

White’s main priority now is the full-back area, although Andy Henson told him on Wednesday night of his intention to remain at the club.

“I’ve identified a couple (of full-backs) I would like to get in,” added White, who also plans to speak with last season’s captain Ben Judge. “I’ve made some contact with one and the chairman’s chasing the other, and if either of those come off they will be good signings.

“I’ve not had any more developments with (ex-Gillingham and Hereford United professional) Richard Rose purely because the lad’s got quite a few options with clubs he could sign for or may sign for. He asked me for a couple of weeks’ grace to see what his options are.”

Tom Vickers will be out for several months after undergoing surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon.