Heath reshuffles AFC's squad for new season
As he prepares for the new Southern League South Division One Central season to start this weekend, AFC Dunstable manager Steve Heath has resided over something of a revolving door at Creasey Park during the summer.
Top scorer for the past two seasons Jermaine Hall has decided to join rivals Bedford Town along with Brett Longden, while Danny Murphy moved to newly promoted Berkhamsted.
Louis Bircham signed for Hanwell Town, plus captain Moses Olaleye retired and Newman Carney informed the manager he wanted to try and make a step up the footballing ladder.
However, there has now been a turnaround from the ex-Luton Town youngster, as Heath said: “Newman came to me and thought it was time to take test himself further up the pyramid and informed me that a National League South club had approached him.
“As Newman had played professionally with Luton Town in the National League, he felt at the age of 24, it was time to see if he could compete at that level, of which I told him he had no worries on that front.
“The club and I wished him all the best with his move.
“Then out of the blue, I had a call that he had reversed his decision and wanted to stay, which was great news.”
Heath has also been able to add to his squad too, including another former Hatter in Adam Watkins.
The boss continued: “I am delighted that Adam has joined the club.
“He will bring a bag-load of experience to the team and will help the youngsters who may break into the first team as we go along.
“Another key signing is Danny May. Danny was with fellow play-off semi-finalists Hayes & Yeading United last season and won the Southern League Central Division with Royston Town in 2016-17.”
There are more too, with Crawley Green’s top scorer Charlie Clayton joining, plus Arlesey duo Rafe Goodman and Joe Steele, while ex-Bedford Town and Dunstable Town player Joel Norris on board.
Heath said: “Charlie came to our attention when we played Crawley Green in the Beds Senior Cup. I had him watched on a few occasions and he was someone I thought could step up.”
Heath will also make sure youth is given a chance this term too, with teenager Kyle Ajayi promoted from the U21 squad last season, while others have been tipped to follow suit.
He added: “Kyle has a tremendous future in the game and I felt it was time he became a first team player.
“He has come through our youth section and he has all the attributes to push on.
“Playing for England Schools last season has helped his confidence, but now the real hard work begins for him.
“Now 18, he definitely has the talent, now we need to see if he has the desire. I am confident he has.
“I have also decided to sign on Southern League forms U18/21 players, Sam McCelland (19) Dan Blackman (19), Sonny Newbury-Barr (17) and Dylan Baker (17) who have all impressed in pre-season.
“Hopefully that sends out the signal to all the young talent at the club, that they can progress to be part of the first team squad when called upon and hopefully will push on and become permanent fixtures in the future.”