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Sittingbourne manager Ryan Maxwell on the signings of Harley Earle, Henry Lukombo and Alkeo Bani

Sittingbourne manager Ryan Maxwell couldn’t be happier with his latest recruits.

The Brickies boss has strengthened his squad with the signings of Harley Earle, Henry Lukombo and Alkeo Bani.

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

They’ve since announced another new face with defender Liam Smith joining from Hythe.

Earle, 20, is back as Bobby Mason’s replacement in goal, having enjoyed a successful loan spell in Maxwell’s early days at the Isthmian South East club.

He was the No.2 keeper at Maidstone but will be the main man at Sittingbourne.

“He’s obviously a talented young man,” said Maxwell, who's added ex-Margate boss Reece Prestedge to his management team.

“He just needs games to develop that talent.

“We’d always kept in touch and when Bobby made the decision not to continue with us, I was delighted Harley was keen to join.

“It’s difficult for young keepers because people don’t want to play them.

“Twenty isn’t considered too young anywhere else on the pitch but it is for a keeper.

“Harley’s very mature and his age doesn’t bother me.

“He’s already an excellent keeper and he’ll only get better.”

Defender Lukombo came through the ranks at Billericay, making his debut aged 17.

Now 21, Maxwell wants to see him show the form that had EFL clubs sniffing around.

“He came to my attention a couple of years ago,” said Maxwell.

“He’s incredibly quick and even attracted interest from league clubs.

“He didn’t get enough game time at Billericay, and was out at Harrow Borough, but he has incredible power and physical attributes and gives us options at centre-half and right-back.

“He has so much potential - that’s why he attracted league interest - and I want to get him back to the level I know he can get to, and beyond. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Midfielder Bani helped Wingate to the Isthmian Premier play-offs this season.

Having convinced him to drop a level, Maxwell is confident Brickies fans will like what they see.

“He’s not long turned 23 and he’s got loads and loads of energy,” said Maxwell.

“He’s a very good passer of the ball, he’s a good size at 6ft1in and he’s got a really good attitude and desire to improve.

“He knows what he’s signing for and the environment we’ll have next year and I’m absolutely delighted to bring a player of that quality, of that age and coming off the back of the season he’s had, to the club.

“His age is key because you know the game at 23 but you’re still learning.

“Physically you’re usually in a great position and the desire to succeed and achieve has got to be at the front of your mind.”

There’s more good news for Brickies fans with midfielder Jean-Baptiste Fischer staying at Woodstock

The Frenchman is progressing well in his recovery from a serious knee injury that saw him miss the last three months of the Isthmian South East season.

Fischer has started light running and while Bourne will tread carefully, the former PSG youth-team player is a big asset.

“I don’t want to get too excited but he’s certainly ahead of schedule,” said Maxwell.

“He’s done everything he possibly could in his rehab so far and it will be fantastic to see him on the pitch in pre-season.

“There’s no pressure on him. If anything, I might have to slow him down a touch because he’s so keen to get going.

“I’m aware of the importance of rehab and not rushing him.

“You’ll see him back in a Sittingbourne shirt when he’s ready but the way rehab’s going gives me nothing but confidence going forward.”

There’s been a second departure over the past week, with utility man Alex Bentley leaving Sittingbourne after an injury-hit campaign.

Bentley, who chalked up his 500th career appearance this season, is set to step away from football to spend more time with his young family.

“I don’t think it’s the end of Alex in terms of football, because he loves the game, but he’s rightly put his family first,” said Maxwell.

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