Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves believes defender Dave Leak’s decision to stay with the club will prove to one of their key ‘signings’ of the summer.
Graves is still putting the final touches to his squad and has a key signing to announce next week once it it finalised.
But he admitted the decision not to be lured away by better money by centre half Leak is crucial to his plans and making the club more attractive to other players.
“The big signing for is us is the signing of Dave Leak,” said Graves.
“He had been offered good money two levels higher than us but has said he is going to give it another season.
“He thinks he has unfinished business and he has signed and committed himself.
“Apart from the striker, that’s probably bigger than any of the new signings to be honest.
“He was the nucleus, with the other lads, of last season and to see someone of his stature re-signing there is no need to go anywhere else is there?
“He has just had a new baby and money could have been a swaying factor. But he’s turned it down and he’s staying which is a real positive.
“The skipper, Joe Atkinson, is re-signing as well so that’s two big players.”
There is intense competition for the number one jersey with the return to the fold of Jimmy Bedingham.
“We have four keepers training at the moment so that’s a bit of pressure for Mike (Randall) from last season to handle,” said Graves.
“Jimmy Bedingham from previous seasons, who’d always been the number one, is coming back after a year out. So he’s got a bit of catch-up to do.”
Hucknall did miss out on one target – though things could still change in the Yellows’ favour.
“We did lose one last year due to the South Normanton situation,” said Graves.
“They have now been promoted two levels above us.
“The lad who we were interested in wants to try to get a shirt there, playing two levels higher than the one level higher they first thought.
“That is fair enough. He says he will see how pre-season goes and if he can get a shirt. If not he knows we are interested.
“So we’ll leave it there. I won’t be chasing – that’s not my style.
“I let players make their own mind up then you know you’ve not pressurised them into a decision that they are ultimately not comfortable with and then change their minds.”
This week’s initial two training sessions/trials were well attended and gave food for thought.
“We have had two training sessions now and both were very good - both hard, nothing easy,” said Graves.
“We worked two hours on Saturday and two hours last night.
“Obviously we still have lads on holiday and new faces popping in, so we’ve had about 60 over the two sessions.
“We have quickly thinned them down. After the session on Saturday there were not a few fit enough to start with, never mind kick a ball.
“A lot of the 60 were trialists – surprisingly one or two of them were from Ilkeston.”
He added: “We have another session on Saturday when we’ll have a few more of the familiar faces back off holiday as well as one of the new signings. I am still not going to say his name.
“We are happy with the players we’ve got at the moment and everything is positive.
“We will see what happens after this Saturday’s training session and then another week and we’ve got our first pre-season game and it all starts properly.”
The Central Midlands League format has been settled, giving Hucknall two games more than last year.
“We finally know the league constitution after Monday’s AGM,” said Graves.
“I was sad to hear Eddie Pearce has stepped down as chairman as he was one of the good guys and he did support us a lot.
“There won’t be an U21 league, which does make sense otherwise we’d have been two teams short in our league and I don’t think they would have been able to operate with 14.
“We have Aslockton, Hilton, Greenwood Meadows and Kilburn coming in, so we have 16 teams, one more than last season, which is two extra fixtures.”