Worthing FC player talks are ‘positive’ – but will Ollie Pearce stay or go?

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Chris Agutter says talks with players he wants to keep for Worthing’s third tilt at National League South glory have been positive.

And he has not ruled out convincing in-demand 43-goal striker Ollie Pearce to stay at Woodside Road for another season.

Agutter was unveiled as the new manager of the Rebels 12 days ago, less than a week after they’d missed promotion to the National Premier by losing 4-3 to Braintree in the play-off final.

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The former Hastings manager and Brighton and Stevenage coach has been getting used to his new surroundings and one of his first tasks has been to work on the make-up of the squad he will entrust to bring the club success when the 2024-25 campaign starts.

Ollie Pearce scored 43 goals in the season just finished, and is in demand | Picture: Mike GunnOllie Pearce scored 43 goals in the season just finished, and is in demand | Picture: Mike Gunn
Ollie Pearce scored 43 goals in the season just finished, and is in demand | Picture: Mike Gunn

Pearce, after two superb National South seasons with Worthing, has been tipped to move up a level or two, with Adam Hinshelwood’s York City and Southend both rumoured to be among National Premier clubs wanting to sign him.

But Agutter said the Pearce situation was ‘ongoing’ – as was work to retain the key members of the 2023-24 squad and bring in reinforcements.

Asked how squad plans were coming together, he said: “It’s early days but we are making positive steps.

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"We hope to be able to announce details of players retained in the next couple of weeks.

"We want to keep the best of what we’ve got and build on the success this team have had.”

Agutter said he had held ‘positive conversations’ with Pearce, who scored in both the play-off semi-final and final after scoring 40 goals in the regular league season, and would love him to stay.

"There’s loads of interest,” the manager said. “The fact he’s still here is testament to how much he loves it here. He’s a proper player.”

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Agutter’s role will also involve him overseeing the players in the club’s academy – from where plenty have come through to star for the first team in recent seasons. He said he was looking forward to seeing how much talent there was in the ranks.

Off the pitch, Worthing have given general manager Keith Mitchell a bigger role, elevating him to chief pperating officer.

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