WITTON Albion’s players have been left shocked by the departure of Brian Pritchard, who resigned as manager earlier this week.

Anthony Sheehan, who has been put in temporary charge along with Nigel Deeley and Dave Andrew for this weekend’s Premier Division encounter with Whitby Town, said none of the squad had an inkling a change was imminent following a 3-1 win against Marine on Monday.

“They couldn’t believe it,” said the 32-year-old.

“I think the lads are disappointed too; Pritch was such an important figure in the dressing room, and he’d worked really hard to put together this group over the summer.

“They used to wind him up for saying ‘moving on’. Well, that’s what we have to do quickly.

“Pritch understands that, and has text me already this week to make sure that’s where our focus is. He knows we have to look forward.”

Sheehan, who has made more than 100 appearances for the club since switching from Colwyn Bay in September 2011, has told chairman Mark Harris he would like to be considered as a candidate to replace Pritchard permanently.

He is likely to have at least two matches, tomorrow’s trip to Whitby plus Tuesday’s visit from Halesowen, to make his case.

“I think I’m ready,” said the midfielder, who joined the management team this summer after Mike Moseley left.

“I coach kids for a living, and training adults is something I’ve always had an ambition to do. While I’ve been playing, there hasn’t been much time for that.

“I need somebody to give me an opportunity now.

“I know already that people will say I have no experience and am untested at this level. It’s normal for that question to be asked.

“I’d be asking Mark to take a risk, but that’s what he did when he appointed Pritch to begin with.”

For now, Sheehan’s priority is Witton extending a winning sequence started by back-to-back wins against Workington and Marine.

Albion were convincing when despatching the Crosby outfit too.

He said: “We were comfortable, and didn’t look like conceding until they got what I felt was a harsh penalty call in their favour.

“Our back five was good, while going forward we reached the levels we’d shown during pre-season.

“If we’re going to be successful this season, those performances will need to be produced again and again.”

The ex-Cammell Laird and Chester man admits he is relieved not to have to keep a secret any longer after discovering Pritchard intended to step down before last Saturday’s trip to Workington.

He said: “I’m part of a car school that drives to games, and it’s been hard sat there knowing what was about to happen while the lads didn’t have a clue.

“It’s a shame Pritch won’t get to see through what he started, because I rate this group as the strongest I’ve been part of since I came here.

“I know it was disappointing to start with two defeats, but we all had faith things would pick up.”