The Rocks have had their biggest boost of pre-season with news they have talked keeper Dan Lincoln into staying at Nyewood Lane - a further sign that things are falling into place nicely for the new National League South season.
Fans and management had feared losing last year’s player of the season to a higher-ranked club but Lincoln is staying put – at least for now.
This does not rule out the chances of him moving on to bigger things at some stage, as many think he is sure to do, but it is a big plus for the club as they prepare for life in a higher division.
Losing him at this stage would have left a mad scramble to find a keeper with experience who could take his place.
General manager Jack Pearce told the Bognor Observer: “We’re delighted he is signing for us again. He had an excellent season last term and is an important player for us.”
Coach Darun Killpartrick and management assistant Gary Charman also spoke of their delight Lincoln would still be in goal in a team containing many of the players who secured promotion last season via the Ryman League play-offs.
Charman said: “It’s a hell of a statement, both from Dan and for us as a club. It’s massive.”
Lincoln was due to sign forms at last night’s home friendly with Crawley.
He was voted fans’ player of the year last season after a string of superb performances that were vital in helping Bognor finish second in the Ryman premier and win their play-off semi-final and final.
There were so many games where he’d made vital saves to turn potential defeats into draws or draws into wins.
He has been keeping his options open as far as the new season is concerned, with the possibility on the horizon of a move to a club higher up the football pyramid.
The Rocks have also signed four new players this summer - defender Corey Heath and midfield trio Joe Lea, Pat Suraci and Tommy Scutt - and continue to run the rule over a number of young trialists. They also remain in the hunt for another striker.
Youngsters who have featured in friendly wins at Chichester City (5-2) and Horndean (6-0) include goalkeeper Lewis Boughton, full-back Luke Robinson, central defender Harry Docherty and forwards Lyndon Miller and Lloyd Rowlatt.
The Rocks’ final friendly will take them to Gosport on Friday evening – then they start their league campaign at home to Bath City on Saturday week.
Coach Killpartrick is pleased with the way training and matches are showing the players progressing in terms of fitness and ability.
He said: “The friendlies have been useful workouts and the players are working hard in training. We’re looking to build up fitness all the time and get them working with the ball exactly as we want them to. We’ll be ready for the first league game.”
Charman has been impressed by some of the young hopefuls who have linked up with the squad.
“Most have been brought in by Dabba (Darin) and are very, very impressive,” he said. “They have a hell of a future in the game. But they will have to see this season as a learning curve. They’re not going to be playing every week.”
See a report from the Crawley friendly plus post-match reaction at www.bognor.co.uk
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