SHOLING marksman Lee Wort has turned down the chance to sign for Eastleigh.
It means Spitfires manager Richard Hill must look elsewhere if he wants a hungry, young striker to join his fast-rising Blue Square Bet South squad.
With 11 league goals scored since the turn of the year, 21-year-old Wort has started 2013 in prolific form in the Southern One South & West.
His eye for goal alerted Hill’s attention, but Wort texted him this week to say he would be staying at Portsmouth Road.
“Lee Wort conducted himself exceptionally,” said Hill.
“He texted to say he was going to stay with Sholing and thanked me for the interest we had shown in him. It was very professionally handled for a young man.
“I just hope the lad doesn’t regret choosing to stay somewhere where he enjoys his football as opposed to being able to further his career and earn more money. Enjoying football at a lower level doesn’t pay the bills.”
Having further strengthened the defensive and midfield areas of his side with the signings of full-back Dan Spence from Hayes & Yeading and loan midfielder Adam Watkins from Luton Town, Hill would ideally like one more frontline addition.
With Craig McAllister back to his best, the ideal solution would be an up-and-coming youngster in the Wort mould, who wouldn’t break the bank and who would benefit from Eastleigh’s daytime training regime.
“I haven’t got a lot of money to go and get another striker and, with McAllister playing well again, I can’t sit a striker on the bench who, in my opinion, should be in the team every week,” said Hill. “People talk about competition for places, but sometimes it can have an adverse effect at this level. We need a forward as competition for McAllister and he’s got to be pretty decent, but will an experienced player want to sit on the bench for Eastleigh?
“If we went with two up front, that would take Jai Reason out of the team. I tried playing Jai on the left against Bromley and it didn’t work. He has to play in an advanced midfield position. It’d be the same if I left out Damian Scannell. We can only play with one forward in the shape I like.
“I thought Lee Wort would have benefited from coming here. He’s a good size and scores goals.
“I could have picked him in the right games to see how he goes, but it wasn’t to be.
“I think Dave (Sholing boss Dave Diaper) put some doubt in his mind that he wouldn’t get games here. But Sholing haven’t picked one of my teams since I came to Eastleigh, so why start now?”
Diaper stands by his belief that Wort will benefit from playing regularly for Sholing.
“Worty’s got great potential, but he needs to play. I think he’s made a sensible decision,” he said.
“He’s banging in goals for us and I’ll keep him for as long as I can, but I won’t hold him back. It’s entirely down to Worty.
“I’ve never played or managed at Conference level so whether Worty could do a good job for Eastleigh, I don’t know.
“But in that league, particularly with them being full-time, you need a level of commitment and must be careful what you eat – no more KFCs etc – and I’m not sure Worty’s that sort of lad.
“If you don’t hit the ground running at that level, especially as a striker, lads can easily be left in limbo.”