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Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb on signing Billy Clifford from Havant & Waterlooville and reaction to the 4-1 home win over Concord Rangers

Ebbsfleet boss Dennis Kutrieb believes new signing Billy Clifford is the best midfielder in National League South - apart from those already in his squad.

The Fleet snapped up Clifford following his release from fellow promotion contenders Havant, the classy 30-year-old making his debut in Saturday’s 4-1 home win over Concord.

Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

“If he’s available and a free agent then we needed to grab him,” stated Kutrieb. “Apart from my team, he’s the best midfielder in the league so if I can get the best midfielder in our league, against someone who is very close to us in the table on top of it. I don’t know if you can make a story out of it but it maybe a great story for us.

“I don’t say it for no reason that he’s the best midfielder in the league, apart from my team, so it’s the perfect fit.”

On Clifford’s debut, Kutrieb added: “Outstanding. He could have had a penalty for me and then he hit the crossbar. We will get him on the scoresheet as he has not scored enough goals at Havant but that will take time.

“You can see he’s not used to being in the box and not used to being with us. He wants to be on the ball and he makes something happen.

“For us he is a perfect fit. I said we’d do something if it makes sense and this definitely makes sense. Without being stretched as a club this was a perfect deal for him and for us.”

Debutant Billy Clifford battles for Ebbsfleet against Concord on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Debutant Billy Clifford battles for Ebbsfleet against Concord on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

There is the potential for Clifford to be involved against his former club next week as Havant visit Stonebridge Road in a key promotion clash.

But Kutrieb is yet to make a decision on whether to include his only new signing since the season started.

He said: “It would be massive pressure for him as he was with them for two and a half years so I don’t need to put a player under massive pressure but we’ll see how the week goes.”

As for the Fleet’s performance against Concord, Kutrieb was pleased with their second-half dominance as the visitors – understandably – ran out of steam.

“It was important for us that we got the equaliser before half-time, that was crucial as you could see they were slowing the game down from the first minute,” said Kutrieb.

“But we didn’t get distracted, we stayed patient. We spoke at half-time about what we could do better and the second half was a joy to watch.

“They wanted to press us high and I said there’s no way they can do it over 90 minutes so we just had to be patient.

“You could see we scored our (first) goal, again from a pressing situation when we broke their press and went forward and scored. I’m happy if they press us, we can get more and more chances so that’s good.

“They didn’t stop that in the second half, they tried for 90 minutes so credit to them, but obviously it was a big favour for us.

“We played a good game in every position, especially in the second half and they couldn’t touch us anymore. I’m really happy because as I’ve said, when we have tough times we don’t need to worry about our strikers as they will score their goals.”

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