NEW Winchester City bosses Tim Cole and Danny Robinson have set their sights on bringing Wantage Town’s promotion-winning skipper Mark James to the Denplan City Ground.

In an ideal world, the managerial duo would love to have brought their trusty captain and centre-back Stuart Mott across with them from Alresford Town.

But while 11 former Magpies have linked with their old bosses at Winchester, Mott has opted to step up into the Southern League with Sydenhams Premier/FA Vase double winners Sholing.

“Stuart got better and better for Alresford last season and we had a long old chat with him, but he wants to try another level and see if he can do it,” said Robinson.

“He’d have been perfect for us to push for promotion at Winchester, but it wasn’t to be.”

It’s not all bad news for City, however. Not only are they closing in on signing James – a strapping 6ft-plus defender who led Wantage to the Hellenic Premier title – but Cole and Robinson have been “taken aback” by the quality of player they have inherited at Winchester.

And no one has made a bigger impression than City’s pedigree skipper and centre-back Leigh Mills, once of Swindon, Spurs and England youth.

“What a player he is!” marvelled Robinson. “You lose Stuart Mott, but then you gain Leigh Mills!

“I wish we could put them together, but hopefully we’re signing Mark James who’s a big, strong centre-half who’s been with Abingdon, Thatcham and Didcot.”

City are also keeping tabs on former AFC Totton and Eastleigh defender Ross Bottomley who is on the mend after a thigh operation.

Already signed is winger/attacking midfielder Geoff Dunn who has impressed in pre-season training. Formerly with Eastleigh reserves, Dunn made 28 Wessex appearances for Lymington Town last term.

Winchester kick off their pre-season programme with two home friendlies against Conference South clubs.

They face beaten play-off semi-finalists Sutton United on Saturday (July 5, 3pm) followed by Basingstoke Town on Tuesday (July 8, 7.45pm).

The Sutton game will be something of an ex-Eastleigh affair, reuniting Winchester chairman Paul Murray and director of football Dave Malone with the Us’ ex-Spitfires boss Paul Doswell.

Entry for friendlies is £6 adults, £4 concessions.