Published: 06:00, 10 September 2021
| Updated: 07:57, 10 September 2021
Ben Smith hopes departing Herne Bay fans’ favourite Daniel Lawrence will return to the club once he hangs up his boots.
Bay announced the popular midfielder has left the club on Saturday after conversations with manager Smith regarding the amount of game time he would get this season due to their vast midfield options.
Lawrence, 34, originally made his debut for Herne Bay in 2005 and has made more than 100 appearances for the club but has now linked up with Southern Counties East side Canterbury.
But Smith, who worked with Lawrence during his time at Canterbury, said: “He will see out the season there.
"But the plan has always been that he will come back in a coaching capacity when he retires, whether that is with our under-18s or the under-23s side, and work his way through.
“I think there are so many good servants of football clubs that stop playing and that is it. We have got to try and retain those within the game.
“DL has been great for me. I’ve had him since my first day in management at senior level. He has always been honest.
“When things aren’t going well, he is probably one of the players that I will speak to.
“It is disappointing he is not going to retire at the club. That was the plan for both of us. But things change.
"We have midfielders that have come in and done really well so I couldn’t guarantee the minutes we spoke about during pre-season and he couldn’t really take that chance.”
Smith’s side also remain without the versatile Bola Dawodu who is expected to be out for a few more weeks with a hand injury.
But other than that, the Herne Bay boss has a full-strength squad at his disposal, ahead of their match against Phoenix Sports at Winch’s Field in Isthmian South East this Saturday.
Second-placed Bay will face similarly tough tests at Ashford on Tuesday and at home to Corinthian next weekend.
Phoenix Sports are 11th with one win, one draw and one defeat from three league matches this term but Smith is not underestimating them.
He said: “They get written off a lot. I certainly wouldn’t write them off.
“In the games we have played against them previously, we have done well in those games but it has always been tight games - there has never been a game where we have run away with it and been really comfortable.
“They have got real threats going forwards. Big Jeff Duah-Kessie up top and Lekan Ojideko as well. Those two are an absolute handful.
“They are a side that is pretty consistent in terms of the core of the side have been together for quite a while now.
“They are going to take some beating, that is for sure.”