IT has been a busy last couple of weeks in terms of player news ahead of the new 2020-21 season.

First of all, it was confirmed that Kyle Sambor had left Witton and joined fellow Northern Premier League side Atherton Collieries, before we announced that Josh Wardle, Billy Smart, James Foley has agreed terms to remain at Wincham Park for next term.

Dealing with the departure firstly, it is disappointing because Kyle looked a really good prospect. He made a good impression in his first stint at this level having played in the North West Counties previously, and the management team thought highly of him and wanted to help his development.

He has all the attributes to make a really good forward at this level, and perhaps higher. He’s quick, fairly strong and has a keen eye for goal and is a good finisher.

Kyle was offered terms to remain at the club but he saw his future elsewhere, and we wish him well at Atherton (apart from when we play against them, of course!).

While that news was disappointing, the news of the four players agreeing to stay is highly encouraging.

All four of them have been a mainstay in the team for the last few years and have played an important part on the pitch, so it is great news that we’ll be seeing more of them next season.

Josh Wardle has been superb in the heart of the defence. Although he has been partnered by a number of different players in the last couple of years, his performances are always of a consistent high standard, and in the absence of Rob Hopley last season, he led the team brilliantly, so I’m delighted he’s sticking around.

In the midfield, Billy Smart and James Foley are both key players for Albion. Billy had a magnificent campaign in 2019-20, scoring a good number of goals from the middle of the park to go alongside his combative play. James is another player who can contribute goals from midfield, which is important. His season was hampered by injury last time around so I’m sure he’ll be chomping at the bit after some rest during the extended close season to enjoy a full season this time.

And then at the top of pitch, Will Jones is another big player for Witton. He’s big and strong and holds the ball up really well. He may not contribute as many goals as he may like, but the team benefits from his selfless running and hard work in the top third of the pitch. You notice when he’s not there, and I think that pays him a big compliment.

So, it’s great news that they’re all staying. Hopefully, we’ll have news of more squad additions in the coming weeks.

Although we don’t have a start date for the new campaign, hearsay suggests we might be looking at a September kick-off. That would be close to a six-month break between the abrupt end to 2019-20 and the beginning of a new season.

It’s felt like longer than that already! Fingers crossed things continue to get better on the pandemic front and we can get to Wincham Park for some action some time soon when it’s safe to do so.