Hastings United player-manager Sean Ray says he is three players short of where he would like to be in his pre-season squad building project.
The powerful central defender is still on the hunt for a full-back, wide player and striker ahead of the 2013/14 Ryman Football League Division One South campaign.
Ray said: “I’m three players short of where I want to be. I still want to get a full-back, wide man and one more centre-forward in, but other than that we’re not far away from having a good, strong squad.
“I think we’re up to 15 enquiries for a centre-forward - the majority of them with Conference South experience - but they’re all commanding fees of ‘take home’ £300. It’s a hell of a lot of money and it’s not realistic.
“I don’t know if players are looking at us thinking we’re a soft touch because of the FA Cup money, but the clubs that pay that sort of money always end up in financial trouble.”
Tom Vickers has become the latest player to leave the club after opting to link up with one-time Hastings boss Garry Wilson at Lewes. Ray says he has had no contact with last season’s captain Lee Carey, who told Observer Sport last week that he didn’t want to play in Division One South.
“I would’ve liked to have sat down with Tom Vickers and had a chat, but he’s decided to move 0n,” added Ray. “But the majority of the players that are staying on are the ones we wanted to keep. It will be a majority local-based side, but obviously there’s going to be three or four players that come from away.”
Young talent Jack Shonk has been training with United having overcome the injury problems he had at Brighton and Ray says he will be trying to sort out a deal to get him on board.