Garry Wilson has secured the return of Rikki Banks to Lewes.
The newly-installed Rooks boss has brought in the former Dripping Pan favourite from Wealdstone. The 25-year-old keeper made a good impression with Lewes fans in his first two spells at the club – firstly between 2008 and 2010 and then again on loan in November 2011.
Meanwhile, last season’s shot stopper, Kieron Thorp, has left the club. Wilson revealed that he asked Thorp to stay on to challenge Banks for the No 1 jersey but the former Eastbourne Town ’keeper decided to leave.
“I asked Kieron to come back and challenge Rikki but he felt he wanted to move on,” he said.
Banks is not just reuniting with Lewes but with both Wilson and his assistant, Danny Bloor. As then Eastbourne Borough manager, Wilson took the 6’ 4” ’keeper to the Sports back in 2010, when the Priory Lane outfit were plying their trade in the Conference National.
Banks also played under Bloor at Worthing.
“It was a little bit early to take him into the Conference,” admitted Wilson this week. “But he’s got more experience now and he was desperate to come back and play for Lewes.
“He has immense stature and has matured into a top keeper. We’ll see the best of Rikki at Lewes next season.”
Wilson confirmed that the goalkeeper change was was the “only bit of movement made at the moment” and that further decisions on last season’s Lewes squad would be made once pre-season training commenced at the end of this month.
“I’ve invited quite a few back for pre-season training,” he said. “We’re not going to rush into things. We need to make the right choices within the budget.
“We’ve got to give each player an opportunity to show us what they can do. Some of the players we haven’t had the opportunity to see play yet.”
Wilson confirmed that he had now either met with or spoken to all of the players – with the exception of Karl Beckford, whom he had still to hear back from despite leaving messages for the midfielder.
He also confirmed that he had met some of the club’s youth players. “We’ve had good reports back from the players,” said Wilson. “Robbo (Steve Robinson) is on holiday at the moment but we’ve spoken to all the senior players, and we’ve spoken to or met all of the players, with the exception of Karl Beckford.”
Wilson also confirmed that candidates for the Under 18 manager’s post were still being considered, with one interview having taken place on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Banks, speaking to the club website, said: “I know both Garry and Dan, I know the club and their great fans. It was an offer I was thrilled to receive. I can’t wait to get going again, and with Dean Lightwood as Head Coach, I’m looking forward to playing among friends again.
“I like what Garry and Dan had to say and I definitely want to be a part of what they will build here”
Danny Bloor added: ” Rikki was a firm favourite here, he has real quality and he will be very happy here. He needed no persuasion to sign, he said it was like coming home.”
Kieron Thorp tweeted on Monday: “After a chat with the new gaffa I have left @Lewes_cfc good luck for the new season want to thank all the staff and fans for great memories.”
Lewes have announced a list of pre-season friendlies. They are: Weds July 17, Eastbourne Town (H); Sat July 20, Hassocks (A); Fri July 26* – Burgess Hill Town (H); Tues July 30 – Leatherhead (A); and Sat August 3 – Whitehawk (A). Additional matches will be added to this list in due course. *will now be played on Fri 26 and not originally advertised Sat 27 in order to avoid a clash with a Brighton game.