HYTHE & Dibden have brought in vastly experienced frontman Steve Whitcher to boost their rapidly improving squad.

The Waterside club have retained the bulk of the players that finished a best ever fourth in Sydenhams Division One last term, but manager Lee Burch has not rested on his laurels.

In addition to bringing in former AFC Totton and Wimborne striker Whitcher, he has also welcomed Tom Barge, Dan Pancaldi and young Josh Watson into the ranks.

Burch said: “Even though the squad is in a good position, I was always hoping to strengthen and the four signings will 100 per cent do that.

“Josh is a young player who has great potential and has fit into the team quickly on and off the field and should be a big part of this season.

“Steve is an excellent technical player who has played a lot of games. As soon as I knew he was interested, I looked to get him to the club. His qualities are known throughout the league and could be the difference in some key games.”

Pancaldi and Barge won’t feature quite as regularly with Burch explaining: “Work commitments will affect their avail¬ ability, but it’s a long season and they will fit in both on and off the field when they do play.” After a tricky start to the 2013/14 campaign, Hythe went from strength to strength and the once perennial cellar-dwellers are now being tipped for promotion.

“It’s nice, but we don’t know how the season will pan out,” said Burch. “Hopefully we can finish around the same position as last season, we’ll take it one game at a time.

“If we are going to be up there, we need a strong start and that is our focus.

“The biggest difference this year is the fact we already have a squad to work with.

“Last season’s start was tough and hopefully getting everyone in place early will help us have a better start this time around.

“The first season went well and we really did start to build for this season.

“We still had some slip-ups and that shows there is still a lot of work to be done.

“But to finish fourth was a big achievement and the club’s best ever finish.

“The lads take the credit as it was their hard work on the field.

Some of the performances were excellent.”

With the big move to Clayfields running slightly behind schedule, Hythe will kick off 2014/15 groundsharing with Premier Division neighbours Blackfield & Langley.

“We are really grateful to Blackfield for helping us with the groundshare,” said Burch. “I really think the size and quality of their pitch will suit us.

“It has always been one of the better pitches in the Sydenhams League and a few of our players are used to it so, all in all, it’s a positive to have it as a temporary home.

“There is a lot of hard work going into the move (to Clayfields) in the background and I’m really looking forward to taking charge of the first game at the new ground.”

Hythe kick off the new campaign on Saturday, August 9 at home to Andover New Street.