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Double player-of-the-year Jordan Higgs leaves Tonbridge Angels | Boss Jay Saunders awaiting answers from other players

Double player-of-the-year Jordan Higgs has left Tonbridge after receiving an offer of full-time football.

Higgs was offered a new deal at Longmead after an impressive campaign which saw him named both supporters’ player and players’ player-of-the-year.

Tonbridge Angels manager Jay Saunders. Picture: Helen Cooper
Tonbridge Angels manager Jay Saunders. Picture: Helen Cooper

The former Dover man also scored the goal-of-the-season, a thumping volley against Maidstone on Boxing Day.

Angels boss Jay Saunders said: “I’m gutted to lose Higgo but he’s been offered an opportunity to go full-time elsewhere and that’s something I can’t offer him.

“He’s decided to move on and I wish him all the best.”

Tonbridge have also offered terms to Lewis Gard, Jamie Fielding, Ryan Hanson and Tariq Hinds.

Saunders wants them to stay but needs answers sooner rather than later as he works on his squad for next season.

He said: “We’ve made them offers but those offers won’t be there forever because we’re speaking to other players.

“We want these lads to stay but we’ve got a limit on what we can go to.

“They were made offers the week after the season finished, so they’ve had them for a couple of weeks and they’ve kind of been made aware that if others become available that I think are worth taking, we’ll do that.”

Generally it’s a slow market at this time of year with few deals announced in National League South.

Saunders added: “We’ve got targets and we’re talking to plenty.

“But, to be honest, the only sides really making announcements are the ones with the bigger budgets.

“At the moment, players aren’t sure whether to commit, so the only way you’ll get them to is by offering them the bigger wages. That’s what we’re seeing at the moment.

“The rest of it will be a bit slow and that’s how we’re finding it.

“We’ve had some positive meetings but nothing over the line.”

One man Tonbridge fans could see plenty of next season is defender Joe Tyrie.

The young centre-back was one of five players confirmed for 2024/25 when Angels released their retained list.

He’s had an impressive season on loan at Sittingbourne in Isthmian South East, helping Ryan Maxwell’s side reach the play-offs.

Saunders feels he’s ready to fight for a place in National League South.

“I’m really pleased with Joe,” he said.

“Maxy’s keen to keep him but it was always the plan to get him out for a year.

“He’s someone I’m looking forward to having back at the club.

“I’ve been speaking to him over the last couple of days and I expect him to be with us and given a fair crack at getting a shirt.

“It’s done him the world of good to get 40 games under his belt.

“He’ll come in for pre-season and try and claim his shirt.

“If he does, I’m sure he’ll have a good season.”

Scott Wagstaff, Sean Shields, Hayden Velvick and Mo Dabre are the other names on board for next season.

Dabre became the latest to commit at the end of last week.

“He’s done really well for us,” said Saunders.

“He’s got loads of energy, can play in loads of positions and he’s a great lad. I’m really pleased to keep him.”

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