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Dover Athletic goalkeeper Mitch Walker excited by the future after seven-year stint at Crabble ends

Mitch Walker says he had an inkling his time with Dover was coming to an end but he leaves Crabble with no ill feelings.

A league ever present in 2017/18, Walker lost the keeper's jersey to Lee Worgan in March, and Whites boss Andy Hessenthaler now sees the former Maidstone man as his first choice.

Walker made his final Dover appearance in Saturday's 3-0 home win over Sutton United, and the 27-year-old says he leaves the National League side with largely fond memories.

Goalkeeper Mitch Walker is leaving Crabble after seven years with Dover Picture: Tony Flashman
Goalkeeper Mitch Walker is leaving Crabble after seven years with Dover Picture: Tony Flashman

Walker, who played 279 times for Dover after signing in 2012, explained: "Sometimes you just get a bit of a gut feeling in football and I had that feeling, but it's a very difficult decision to make and I certainly don't envy managers who have to make that sort of decision because football is cut throat.

"I totally respect the decision and will be leaving on good terms with everyone.

"I appreciate all the support I've had over the seven years, we've obviously had a few downs at the club but for me personally and the club we've had a lot more highs.

"I walk away with my head held high, we've had the highest finish the club has ever had and there have been quite a few awards along the way for me personally and for the club.

"I'll miss quite a lot of people because it's a good club, well run so thank you to everyone who has supported me from the chairman down, the players and everyone behind the scenes who are unsung heroes."

Walker said winning promotion from Conference South and then finishing fifth in the National League during 2016/17 were among his career highlights at Crabble, and he doesn't rule out returning one day to play against Whites.

The former Brighton man, who kept most league clean sheets in 2017/18, explained: "I'm very much looking forward to the summer break, it's been a long old season for everyone involved.

"This year has been difficult for the club, it wasn't what we've been used to, we're used to fighting at the top of the league.

"Of course, like any footballer, I want to play at the highest level possible. I feel very confident that I'm capable of playing at this level, I've shown it over many years and also the level above, so we'll just have to wait and see.

"I'm excited to see what the future holds and we'll go from there, but I wish Dover all the best for next year and hope they can go one better that what we've done since I've been at the club."

Boss Hessenthaler admitted it had been a tough decision to release Walker but he was reluctant to have two senior keepers on his books.

Dover keepers Lee Worgan, left, and Mitch Walker warm-up before a game at Crabble
Dover keepers Lee Worgan, left, and Mitch Walker warm-up before a game at Crabble

He added: "Mitch has been a great servant, I basically said to him I don't want to carry two No.1 goalkeepers. I see Lee Worgan as No.1 next year and I'm going to bring a younger one in to work alongside Worgs and push him.

"I had to make a call, because of the budget as well. Mitch wants to play every game and I understand that.

"I put Worgs in and he's definitely got another year, maybe two in him, so that's the plan.

"It is about opinions, but Mitch has been brilliant for this club so yes tough day for him, but all respect to him.

"We've got respect for each other. He's been here seven years and he may need that change, he'll go off and be No.1 somewhere else, but they're the calls I have to make as a manager."

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