WITTON Albion have confirmed Nick Ryan, a defender that spent last season at a higher level with Stalybridge, as their first signing of the summer.

He has agreed terms on a one-year deal with the promoted Northern Premier League club.

“We’re taller now!” quipped Albion boss Carl Macauley.

“I felt we perhaps needed a bit more height in defence, and Nick gives us that.

“He had a disrupted season with Stalybridge because of an injury and the fact they changed manager a couple of times, so it was a good moment for us to pounce.

“He’s a young lad that is comfortable in possession, which is important to us, and we’ve got all options covered with four central defenders available.”

Anthony Brown has signed a contract for this season, while Scott Lycett and Michael Wilson are also on board again.

Both of them filled in at full-back last term when Anthony Gardner or Matty Devine were unavailable, and in a 24-team Premier Division are likely to do the same again.

Macauley said: “We’ll need all of them with fixtures almost every Saturday and Tuesday – that’s impossible to do with only two central defenders.

“We’ll try to manage it as best we can, and I’ve told those lads already that I’ll be counting on them to play their part.”

Witton’s players started their preparations for a new campaign last weekend, and are scheduled to play a first friendly at Runcorn Linnets next Saturday.

Macauley, who has spent the past seven days running the rule over trialists and hopefuls from Albion’s youth team, told the Guardian that his squad is unlikely to be settled by then.

He added: “I’m trying to get a couple more signings sorted.

“Like every other manager, we’ve had knock-backs or been priced out of a deal by other clubs offering more money. That happens.

“We’ll have a decision either way from two more lads early next week and our position moving forward will be a bit clearer then.”

One player who won’t be returning is attacking midfielder Karl Noon, who has joined City of Liverpool.

The 30-year-old has dropped down two levels in search of more regular playing time after starting only 20 games in league and cup for Witton.

He is the fourth member of last season’s promotion-winning squad – Bradley Bauress, Tom Owens and Danny Roberts are the others – to depart Wincham Park this summer.

Macauley said: “There was a place for Karl here if he wanted to stay, but I couldn’t make him the guarantee he was after that he’d play from the first minute.

“There are no hard feelings, and he did a great job for us last year.”

Goalkeeper Calvin Hare, Will Jones, Steven Tames and Rob Hopley have all agreed new one-year deals, while Macauley has told the Guardian that negotiations with influential midfielder Paul Williams have reached a successful conclusion too.

Prince Haywood is staying, while full-back Matty Devine still has another 12 months on his arrangement.

Youngsters Jamie Hinchliffe and James Sloane are committed as well.