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Batten Makes Impressive New Signings

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Ernie Batten, manager of Southern Counties East League Premier Division club Sheppey United, continues to bolster his team with impressive new signings.

Batten has snapped up two players from Bostik League South side Sittingbourne in Hicham Akhazzan and Tom Brunt and signed goalkeeper Jordan Carey from league rivals Cray Valley.

Akhazzan has left Sittingbourne after eleven years during which time he netted over 100 goals in 444 appearances.

At 29, he felt the time was right to drop down to Southern Counties East but leaves with many happy memories and a testimonial against his previous club, Chatham Town on Saturday, July 15th.

Batten said: “This is another great signing for the club and one I have been chasing for a while now. Hicham always stood out and impressed me whenever I watched him play last season. He’s a tricky, very quick and very talented midfield player who will grow in our team and nature of play.”

Twenty-four-year-old Brunt follows Akhazzan to The Havill Stadium – Holm Park for the forthcoming season.

He turned pro in 2011 at Gillingham before playing at the highest levels in Kent football with Ashford Town, Folkestone Invicta and Sittingbourne where he was captain.

Batten added: “Tom brings us some versatility as he is predominantly a midfield player but can also play full-back. Again, we have brought in another young player who has bundles of experience and will be a real asset to us. Tom has had a lot of interest from clubs in Kent who are playing a higher level but he can see what we are creating. We should all be proud of our club as players want to play here.”

Carey has previously played at Margate, Billericay Town and Cray Valley and is a young and imposing keeper. Although young in years at 19 years old, his experience and talent will be a big asset to the team.

“This is a great signing for the club. Jordan really impressed when he played against us last season. He’s a big lad, very quick and very commanding,” added Batten.

“The management team and I sat down and had a good talk to Jordan about what we have achieved and ultimately where we want to be and our plans. We showed him around and he loved the set-up we have here. He was equally excited at the ambition we have at the club and the way we play football. He remarked about our fans and how vocal they are and how much of a difference it makes.

“We have made some great signings in Jordan, Hicham and Tom and we have a few more players to talk to and a couple of other key men in our sights, so it`s looking to be another good season for us.

“We are trying to build a squad to push on and that means expanding on our very young team with some experienced players. It`s all about balance and building the team the right way at the right time. Our fans are the best in our league by far and probably up there with the best in Kent. I’m as passionate as they are for us to do well but I have to keep a calm head to bring the rewards they deserve but what I do know is that if they can keep getting behind the lads both home and away with their vocal support then who knows where it will take us. It makes so much difference.”

With the exception of Danny Walder, who has left for Faversham Town and Karn Miller-Neave and Joe Denny, who have gone back to Ebbsfleet United following their loan periods, there have been no other players from last season`s squad moving on.

Batten added: “At present, we will have everyone reporting back for pre-season training. Until we all meet up in a couple of weeks its business as usual. John Ralph will be a welcome return after his injury last season and I am waiting on the outcome of a couple of other players too from lengthy lay-offs. The pre-season fixtures will be a good test and a good chance for us to evaluate things. The teams we are playing all offer different challenges. I am looking forward to the Sittingbourne game and I’m hoping that’s when our fans do the club proud – be vocal, sing but enjoy the game the right way”.

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