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Craig Parker back at Needham Market as boss speaks of recruitment issues

Richard Wilkins may have recruited three players he has formerly managed, with Craig Parker the latest Needham Market addition, but he insists it is simply a happy coincidence.

The 32-year-old attacking midfielder returns to the Southern Football League Premier Division Central side after an eight year absence; most recently helping King’s Lynn Town gain promotion to the National League North last term.

He is fondly remembered at the Step 3 club and still holds the Needham Market club record for the most goals in a season – when he scored an impressive 40-goal tally from midfield in the 2010/11 season.

Craig Parker is pressed by former Lynn trialist Kieran Higgs. (13365814)
Craig Parker is pressed by former Lynn trialist Kieran Higgs. (13365814)

He becomes Wilkins’ fourth signing of the summer, which has already seen him opt to link back up with Marcus Garnham, Russell Short (re-signed) and Parker.

“Craig brings goals from midfield, experience, a calm head and he will fit into the squad,” Wilkins said.

“That’s why we brought him back ­– but he’s also a Step 3 footballer who still has the drive to compete at this level,” Wilkins explained.

“There’s no panic, but it’s been difficult to recruit this off-season, I think I’ve spoken to about 20 players but nothing has come of it.

“I don’t think players are pushing themselves, I always wanted to play as high as I could, but players don’t think like that now. Craig had offers from lower-league clubs but he decided to come to us, that’s exactly the attitude we want.

“It’s just the way it’s worked out so far with linking back up with these players, I haven’t gone looking for players I’ve worked with before, but obviously those players are always on my radar because I know they will push themselves and work hard.

“Craig will be a great addition to the squad.”

Parker, who is also a former Bury Town and AFC Sudbury player, previously spent between 2009 and 2011 with the Marketmen.

He joined Lynn in 2017 from AFC Sudbury, making a total of 94 appearances (68 starts) and scoring 19 goals.

He is Needham’s fourth signing, with last season’s loanee Sam Squire having also committed to the club.

Wilkins added that the club are still looking for a centre forward, having lost out on Colchester United striker Decarrey Sheriff who ended last season on loan at Bloomfields.

The 21-year-old opted to move to National League South side Concord Rangers, a decision Wilkins ‘admires’ as the youngster pushes himself to be the ‘best he can be’.

Luke Ingram, meanwhile, is still at least a month away from playing as he recovers from injury.

“Up front is very much an area of the pitch we need to target still,” Wilkins said. “I’m very happy with my defence and my midfield isn’t too bad – we need maybe one more wide man.”

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