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Herne Bay sign former Bromley, Dartford and Margate defender Dan Johnson while captain Laurence Harvey commits for another season

Manager Ben Smith believes Herne Bay fans will be delighted with the team's progress during lockdown, writes Joe Harbert.

Speaking shortly before the signing of defender Dan Johnson from Margate on Thursday evening, boss Smith says new additions will improve his squad rather than just increase numbers for the promotion-chasing outfit.

Dan Johnson has already made 99 appearances for Herne Bay and is back for more Picture: Tony Flashman
Dan Johnson has already made 99 appearances for Herne Bay and is back for more Picture: Tony Flashman

Smith said: "The key thing was retaining our players and being methodical, because from November onwards we were one of the form sides in this league, so we certainly don't have anything to worry about.

"We have to use that feeling of being aggrieved and missing out on what could have been to hit the ground running, especially as the club is in the best place it's been in for a long time.

"Last year we were playing catch up throughout, whereas now we'll be a lot more settled and the signings we make will only be ones that improve us greatly, rather than just like-for-like.

"So if you're a Herne Bay supporter you should be very excited and happy with what we're doing at the moment, even more so than last season, and they'll all see that over the next few weeks."

Johnson has arrived after experienced football at the top end of the non-league pyramid and he's still only 24. His former clubs include Bromley - where he was called up to the England C team - and Dartford. He was at Margate for the 2019/20 season. He returns to Bay having already made 99 appearances for the club.

And as well as announcing the arrival of defender Raphe Brown from VCD Athletic, Smith has also confirmed captain Laurence Harvey will be staying with the club ahead of the new season.

Former Canterbury City manager Smith says that with other potential targets attracting the interest of various National League sides, patience is vital in adding big names to the coastal outfit's ranks.

He explained: "This time last year we had three players in total at the club so it was tough to start with, but as soon as we saw opportunities to bring in certain players that we liked, everything turned around very quickly.

"We brought in Anthony Edgar who is arguably one of the best, if not the best, midfielder in the league, but he got injured in his first game, so he's one of a few who will be like a new signing for us.

"So we don't need to go out and sign 10 players - we brought Raphe Brown in, so we'll look at possibly two or three others who need to be of the quality that can walk in any other side in the league.

"Patrick Nzuzi is in the middle of going back to the DR Congo, so we earmarked Raphe to replace him and I know we beat off a lot of competition to get him, so he's a great coup for us.

"But because of the players we're talking to, it takes time to get deals over the line because they have an awful lot of suitors and it's a lot harder when it's a different calibre of player than before.

"Some are having National League sides talk to them, so you have to be patient and pitch a lot more about things like the training environment and what is happening behind the scenes.

"So it can be frustrating, but at the moment we're still very happy with where we're at and we'll be releasing some names shortly - we'll meet for training on Saturday for the first time and go from there."

More: Herne Bay reveal new club badge

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