Bury Town’s supporters have been urged to be patient and keep their faith in the management after two of the club’s most popular players left.
Striker Sam Reed and left-back Mark Coulson have exited Ram Meadow after a combined nine-and-a-half years of service to the Blues.
Young midfielder Evan Key has also departed, but manager Richard Wilkins and director of football Trevor Collins insist plans are advanced for new faces to be added to recent additions Dave Bridges and Seb Dunbar.
“We have got things in the pipeline,” said Wilkins. “There are a lot of people we’ve spoken to and made offers to.
“It’s my job to do the wheeling and dealing — the squad needs freshening up.
“I’m really positive about the players we’ve brought in and the ones we have spoken to — I’m really looking forward to next season.”
He added: “There is no-one that has left the club that we wanted to leave.”
Reed and Key have left in search of regular first-team football, with the latter sorting his future out quickly by joining Biggleswade Town in the Southern League Premier Division.
However, Coulson departed after he was offered a non-contract deal as part of the Blues’ new wage structure.
Collins, who was due to meet an attacking midfielder with Conference experience yesterday afternoon, said: “I understand the supporters will be disappointed, but they will have a new hero next year.
“We’ve brought in two players — one in Seb Dunbar who will only get better and Dave Bridges has been there and done it.”
Bury hope they will be able to manoeuvre more freely in the transfer market during the season if a certain number of players are signed up on non-contract terms.
“When we had four or five injuries last year, it killed us over a two-month period,” said Wilkins. “We have been trying to think of ways where we could make it a bit easier for ourselves.
“Other clubs we meet don’t have many players on contract because if they are not on contract you can move them along during the season if necessary.”
Key, who is among five players confirmed as not returning to Bury, does not believe he was given a fair opportunity to prove himself last season, despite making 37 appearances, one of which was a start in the Suffolk Premier Cup final.
“There were games I was playing and then dropped,” said the 18-year-old. “I know it was because of my age, but we were playing and unbeaten and I still got dropped.
“It was a bit of a cop out in my view and I feel I need to be playing regularly.”
He added: “Throughout the year I didn’t think I was given a fair chance that I deserved.”
Wilkins admitted Key’s departure hurt him, while Collins believes the youngster still had plenty more to learn at Ram Meadow.
“Evan showed towards the end of last season what a good footballer he is,” said Collins. “He would have been better coming back in pre-season and working with the likes of Dave Bridges and John Kennedy, learning off them and becoming a better player by playing alongside them.”
Wilkins added: “It’s annoying for me because he is a young lad who we brought up through the system and has decided to go because he wants regular football.
“In a way that’s one of the most disappointing ones because he’s a young lad who has just started to play well for us.”
Paying tribute to Reed and Coulson, Wilkins said: “Sam has given us six-and-a-half years of great service.
“He doesn’t owe Bury Town anything because of what he has done for the club.
“Mark has been a great player for Bury Town — he’s been Mr Consistent.”