Thetford Town manager Mark Scott has expressed his disappointment after central defender Nathan Birch signed for Walsham-le-Willows.
After initially agreeing a deal to stay with the Brecklanders next season, Scott was informed via text message during last Thursday’s training session that the defender had had a change of heart.
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” said the Thetford boss. “I’ve known Nathan since he was a kid and had shook hands with the offer that me and the chairman had put on the table.”
Birch — who at one stage looked set to move to Stowmarket Town — returns to Summer Road after a two-year spell at Thetford and is being lined-up by Willows boss Paul Smith as a replacement for defender Nathan Clarke, who signed for Bury Town last month.
“He’s an ideal replacement as he is very strong,” said Smith. “Nathan signed for us a few years ago and started the following pre-season with us.
“We had a lot of centre-backs with us at the time and he took a knock and couldn’t get back into the team.
“My assistant (Paul Musgrove) gave him a ring and persuaded him to come back to us.”
The Willows had their first pre-season training session last night and are expected to announce more signings over the weekend.
Thetford have, however, secured the services of several key players from last season’s campaign.
Manager’s player-of-the-year Luke Bailey has put pen to paper on a deal to remain at Mundford Road next season, as well as Scott Cruickshank, Samuel Bond, Ian Fancett, Arron Joseph and Bruno Tavares.
“I’m happy with what we’ve got so far,” said Scott. “I want to add some new players and secure some more of the players from last season in the next few weeks.”
The Thetford boss is hoping to complete deals to keep players’ player-of-the-year Sam Bryant at the club as well as Shane Leech, Luke Catchpole and Jordan Rocastle.
“We’re getting there and it’s nice to be a head of the game for a change,” explained Scott. “There’s some new faces at training who I’ll be testing out in our first two friendlies next week.”
Thetford entertain Dersignham at Mundford Road on Tuesday (7.30pm) before hosting Wroxham on Friday (7.45pm).