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Sittingbourne manager Ryan Maxwell says good players expect competition after signing Gil Carvalho and ex-Arsenal youngster Jay Beckford

Ryan Maxwell has warned of the competition for a shirt at Sittingbourne after completing two more signings.

Winger Gil Carvalho, who first played for the Brickies under Nick Davis, has returned to Woodstock after an impressive campaign at Herne Bay.

Gil Carvalho in action for Herne Bay last season. Picture: Alan Coomes
Gil Carvalho in action for Herne Bay last season. Picture: Alan Coomes

He’s been joined by attacking midfielder Jay Beckford, a former Arsenal under-18 player who has signed from Eastbourne Borough.

It’s been a busy summer for boss Maxwell as he looks to lead Sittingbourne to Isthmian South East promotion following last season’s third-placed finish and play-off semi-final exit.

The Northern Irishman has taken the number of signings into double figures over the past couple of weeks and everyone knows the score.

“It’s about competition,” said Maxwell, whose side beat National League South Maidstone 4-1 in a friendly last night. “The boys are under no illusions.

“Nobody is guaranteed a start here. I’ve told them all you’ll have to fight your way in and then you’ve got to keep the shirt.

“It’s OK playing well for a game or two, I need players performing for a large portion of the season.

“We need competition. It’s healthy. It brings out the best in individuals and if it doesn’t and you find you aren’t able to compete within your own squad, you’re probably not right for me anyway.

“Good players expect competition. They’ve had it for the majority of their career. To the young ones it may be new but you’ve got to start somewhere.

“You’ve got to be at it here and if you find yourself wearing a Sittingbourne shirt for the majority of the games, you’ve done well.”

Carvalho, who’s also played for Ramsgate, Ashford and Faversham, scored 11 goals and provided 10 assists for Herne Bay last season.

Maxwell was initially unaware of his Brickies past but is pleased to bring him back to a club where he impressed under Davis several years ago.

“I didn’t know he was previously at Sittingbourne until I was speaking to him,” said Maxwell.

“We had a conversation and basically he turned up the next day and it was great to agree terms.

“He hasn’t come here for more money, I don’t mind telling you that.

“He’s come here to put himself in an environment that he believes is right for him at this stage of his career.

“He’s a player with ability and intelligence.

“He makes very good runs and I’ve noticed that already.

“His movement off the ball probably doesn’t get the acknowledgement it deserves. There’s an intelligent footballer there.

“Yes, he’s good when he gets the ball but I’m impressed with his game understanding and I’m looking forward to working with him.

“He can play in a couple of positions. He likes to play off the left but he can play off the right and off the frontman.”

Beckford has dropped a couple of levels to join Sittingbourne having spent the past two seasons with Eastbourne in National League South.

He’s impressed Maxwell in his first few days at the club.

“What a lovely footballer he is,” said the Brickies boss.

Sittingbourne manager Ryan Maxwell. Picture: Ian Scammell
Sittingbourne manager Ryan Maxwell. Picture: Ian Scammell

“Having an upbringing at Arsenal, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be a good footballer, aren’t you?

“He certainly has the technical ability of someone who’s been at that calibre of football club.

“Technically he’s excellent, he shifts the ball well, he’s got great feet and he’s a really intelligent footballer.

“He’s another one who can play in different positions, which is important.

“He’s 24, his best football is in front of him and I’m hoping I can get the best out of him.”

A chance conversation set the wheels in motion for the arrival of Beckford, who has also had spells in Sweden and Norway.

Maxwell said: “He had another year at Eastbourne but we were talking and I said you’re more than welcome to train with us if it’s not going to work out there, depending on what they’re looking to do with you.

“He came back and said he was free to explore other options and I got in touch with the Eastbourne manager and it went from there.

“It happened quite quickly but this boy just wants to play football.

“He’ll have to work hard but there’s a very talented footballer there and I do appreciate a good footballer. He’s an excellent signing.

“At 24, he’s played at Step 2 and he’s played abroad, which is good because it broadens his experiences.

“He has that on his CV and that’s a positive thing for us.

“He’s fitted in well and has been a joy to manage so far.”

Sittingbourne are in friendly action at home to Welling on Saturday (3pm) and host Folkestone on Tuesday (7.45pm).

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