WITTON Albion’s latest signing, Josh Wardle, is a defender that manager Carl Macauley hopes can fill a role vacated by Anthony Brown following his departure.

And the 21-year-old arrives with confidence boosted by a hugely successful campaign last time out.

“He’s a player that we’ve looked at for a while,” said the Witton manager.

“We lost a significant amount when Anthony left because he was a natural leader and an influential figure in our dressing room.

“Josh has a similar style; he’s aggressive, and strong.”

Wardle was captain of a men’s first team at Liverpool John Moores University that finished top of their division in the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) League with an unbeaten record.

However they narrowly missed out on promotion after losing in a play-off against Stirling following extra-time.

The tall back-marker was also a regular for Skelmersdale United in the Northern Premier League following a transfer from Kendal last November.

Wardle’s form on the field persuaded manager Dave Powell to pick him as his player of the year.

“I’m sorry to see Josh go,” said the Skem boss.

“He was a key member of our defence last season.”

Wardle will face another of his former clubs, Lancaster City, when he steps up to the Premier Division for the first time with Witton.

He joins a defence department to which Michael Wilson has committed for another season.

Meanwhile Nick Ryan, currently convalescing after breaking his leg in three places during a league match at Marine in April, has also signed a new one-year contract.

Macauley is optimistic too that he will also have River Humphreys to call on again after telling the Guardian that negotiations with the former Widnes man, who made a dozen starts for Albion last term, have been positive so far.