Elphick buoyed by squad assembled after summer of change

James Fraser (far, right) celebrates with another Worthing summer signing, Omar Folkes, in last night's friendly win. Picture by Marcus Hoare
James Fraser (far, right) celebrates with another Worthing summer signing, Omar Folkes, in last night's friendly win. Picture by Marcus Hoare

Worthing Football Club boss Gary Elphick is delighted with the squad he has assembled at Woodside Road after a huge turnover of players this summer.

The new Bostik League Premier Division season begins a week on Saturday and Elphick feels he has plenty of depth and competition in the squad. It has been a mixed pre-season so far, with a 4-3 home defeat to Horsham on Saturday – having led 3-0 –followed by a 4-1 victory over a young Forest Green Rovers side on Tuesday.

Elphick was buoyed by some of his team’s play in the win against Rovers, when Omar Bugiel, who joined Forest Green from Worthing in February, captained the visitors and received a standing ovation from the 570-strong crowd just past the hour when he was substituted.

Worthing have brought in James Fraser, Tony Nwachukwu, Kershaney Samuels, Omar Folkes, Antoine Douglas and Alfie Young this summer, while Will Hendon, Corey Heath, Brannon O’Neill, Dan Summers, Jack Cook and Louis Clark have all left.

Goalkeeper Jack Fagan announced earlier this week he does not intend to play for the club for the foreseeable future, so Elphick is hoping to finalise a deal with Lucas Covolan, who has played in goal in the past three friendlies.

Elphick is also confident a loan deal can be agreed with Ebbsfleet for Ollie Boulding, while midfielder Ross Edwards is back with Worthing – and played on Tuesday evening – after it was announced he was leaving last week.

Elphick said: “I’m really happy with where we’re at. There’s been a huge turnover of players which is not part of the furniture at Worthing.

“It’s always been a real core of players that have stayed together but we’ve been a victim of our own success and players have moved on.

“Will and Corey wanted to play a level higher but when you see the likes of Ruben Schneider and Matt Boiling coming through, that’s the conveyor belt I want.

“I feel I’ve increased the quality in and around the squad. If this is the position I’d have been offered a few weeks ago, I’d have been delighted.

“There’s plenty of depth, plenty of competition and with the new formation we tried against Forest Green, hopefully it beckons an exciting period. But the hard work has only just begun.”

Goals from Fraser, Douglas, Ben Pope and an own goal took Worthing to victory against Forest Green. The hosts played a 3-5-2 formation and Elphick admitted afterwards it will be an option for the start of the season.

Bugiel received a standing ovation from the Woodside Road crowd when he was subbed – and again at the end of the match – and said afterwards: “It was something special and I think it was the right way to say goodbye to the fans and all of my team-mates and mates here.

“I was here for three years. I came when the club was nothing, stuck with it and you can see what we achieved.

“I owe Worthing a lot. Ever since I moved over here and after all the injuries I had too, it was always my dream to play league football. If I get a chance next season, I want to make sure I make an impact.”

Worthing complete their pre-season programme at Hastings on Saturday and Elphick said: “It’s a fantastic game to have because it’s a real acid test. We’re going away from home, it’s a bit of a journey involved and we’ll have to be on it against a very talented squad.

“We’ll look forward to it, look forward to meeting up with Adam Hinshelwood, who’s a club legend here, and then hopefully we’re ready to rock and roll next Saturday.”

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