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Dover Athletic manager Mitch Brundle insists there’s no panic despite a fairly slow start to the summer on the recruitment front

There is no panic for Dover boss Mitch Brundle despite a relatively slow start to the summer on the recruitment front.

National League South Whites, who narrowly avoided a second successive relegation at the end of their 2022/23 season, confirmed their retained list last week.

Dover Athletic manager Mitch Brundle
Dover Athletic manager Mitch Brundle

But that only included four players and, although talks are ongoing with other members of last term’s squad, their identities haven’t been publicly revealed.

But Brundle insisted: “It’s going well.

“A lot of people are on holiday, lots are waiting for decisions.

“You see the lists come out and everyone automatically thinks ‘We’ll go and get that player’ - but it’s not that easy.

“They’re waiting to see what their best option is. Some of them are looking in leagues higher, some want to drop down a league, and some want to go part-time.

“So you have to do your due diligence with everyone you target.

“But it’s going well. Some are pretty much all agreed with personal terms and coming and signing.

“There’s just not been a chance to go to the stadium and actually sign the contract yet.

“Obviously, when you go part-time, they can’t just go down in midweek and sign a bit of paper - because they’re at work.

“I can see lots of people are panicking but there’s no panic.

“A lot of people doing their deals now are probably paying over the odds, as well, and we want to be smart in our business.

“We want to make sure it’s right, rather than just getting people through the door.

“It’s all in forward motion.”

Chairman Jim Parmenter appeared to cast doubt on the future of Brundle after their season-ending defeat to Weymouth.

But the 28-year-old explained that particular meeting with Parmenter has since taken place - with the focus of the conversation being on how Whites will avoid getting sucked into a relegation battle again, rather than Brundle’s position.

“We had our chat,” he confirmed. “We had it on the Monday or Tuesday, straight after the season finished, just about progressing.

“We didn’t want to be in the situation we were in and we can’t be in the same situation this year.

“It’s just about us being positive as a club again.

“We thanked our lucky stars that day - it wasn’t us [who secured survival], but we managed to stay up and we’re not fighting in Isthmian Premier.

“We’re still National South and we have to progress and step forward now.”

While there’s plenty of uncertainty over how Whites’ squad will look at the start of the new campaign - with defender Tyrone Sterling having signed for Margate - Brundle is looking forward to working with retained Academy products Luke Baptiste, George Wilkinson, George Nikaj and Freddie Oliver in pre-season.

He said: “Those boys have already been playing and training with us all the time, and they’ll be a few more from the Academy [involved with the first-team squad].

“Freddie will be involved again this year - he had school last year.

“There’s people like George Wilkinson, who didn’t have as much game time towards the end, but there’s a player in there.

“I’ve got a pre-season now to work with them and try to get the best out of them.”

Explaining the club’s decision not to name those he remains in discussions with, Brundle said: “Some of them won’t engage yet because they want to relax.

“They might look for better options. They might want to better themselves, going elsewhere.

“We can allow them to go and explore their options because we don’t have any ties.

“The key is to ensure there’s a good relationship between myself and the players, and I’ve got that with everyone that I’ve spoken to.

“But it comes down to finances and what that player wants - in terms of whether it works for them, with where they live because Juddy [Myles Judd], for example, is over Essex way.

“There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot can be said.

“But until anything’s concrete, I don’t like discussing it.”

Whites have confirmed they’ll host League 2 opposition twice in pre-season, with Gillingham heading to Crabble on Saturday, July, 8 and Crawley doing so 10 days later.

“We wanted a couple of home games to let the crowd come and see the new players to try and build that connection with the crowd before the season actually starts,” said Brundle. “That’ll be ideal.

“It allows you to get fitter quicker.

“We’re going to be a fit team, we’re going to make sure we have everything that we can get to be better off than we were last year.

“That comes from playing against better opposition.

“Results? They don’t really matter in pre-season, it’s more about the bond and, with being part-time, how quickly they can get up to the fitness levels that I want.

“You only do that by playing against better opposition.

“We’re playing two teams in League 2, one in the National League and we’ll fill out the rest of the fixtures with games where we’ll be wanting to implement different things.”

Dover will also be at home to Isthmian Premier Folkestone on Saturday, July 15.

Main club sponsor Megger have agreed to also sponsor the youth section.

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