Colchester United legend Karl Duguid can provide the wealth of experience Needham Market will need to step up to the Ryman Premier League.
That is the view of the Marketmen’s manager Mark Morsley, after the club agreed terms with 37-year-old Duguid to join as a player-coach for their debut season at step three of the non-League ladder.
Duguid made more than 450 appearances during two spells at Colchester, with a three-year stint at Plymouth Argyle seeing the defender or midfielder clock up 591 games in a professional career that spanned 19 years.
And with former Ipswich Town midfielder Ian Westlake, 31, hanging up his boots to concentrate on his business and with a new baby on the way, along with player-coach Lee Norfolk taking a year out, it is that invaluable experience which Morsley believes will be pivotal for the Marketmen next season.
“I’ve been aware of his availability and that he would bring immense experience,” he said. “Karl ticked all the boxes for us.
“He will very much be involved in the playing side, and coaching as well, so he needs to keep his fitness up.”
The Letchworth-born utility player spent most of his career as a full-back, but has also featured in more attacking positions in recent years for Colchester and Plymouth.
The former United skipper led the U’s to promotion into the Championship for the first time in the club’s history back in 2006, and is set to join up with another ex-Colchester stalwart in Kemal Izzet, who has captained the Marketmen for the last two seasons.
Duguid hung up his boots at the end of the 2013/14 season, before coming out of retirement to play for non-League sides Welling United and Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division Stanway Rovers in the last campaign.
“Karl is good on the ball and can keep possession,” Morsley said. “He’ll bring that little bit of experience that we need.He’s joined us initially for a year, with the opportunities at the football club available to him after that year.”
Needham secured automatic promotion three weeks ago as champions of Ryman League Division One North, finishing one point ahead of title rivals Harlow Town, and Morsley is not expecting there to be much transfer activity at Bloomfields over the summer.
“In the main we’ve kept the squad from last year. We’ll be adding to it with a few lads from the academy moving to the first-team squad” he said.
At the club’s presentation night on Friday, Luke Ingram and Ollie Brown were jointly awarded the Supporters’ Player of The Year trophy, while Sam Newson was named Players’ Player of the Year and Ollie Fenn Manager’s Player of the Year.