FORMER Saints and Fulham centre-back Mark Blake has stepped down as head coach of Conference South outfit Eastleigh.

After a heart to heart with manager Paul Doswell, the 38-year-old has left the Silverlake Stadium because he can't devote the extra time the club requires.

"Paul's looking for a coach who can commit to doing more evenings and ad-hoc get-togethers during the week and maybe even meet up on a Sunday to talk through Saturday's game," Blake explained.

With a high-paid job in IT and a family to consider, the former England youth international said there was no way he could possibly up his commitment levels from the two or three midweek nights and the Saturday he was already doing.

He said: "Paul and I talked about what he was looking for and I told him I couldn't commit beyond the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

"If there was no midweek game we would do Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and, with notice, I could work that around my career and move meetings accordingly to make sure I made it to games and training. But it's not possible for me to do more.

"I'm fortunate in that I've got a very well-paid job and I did the football because I wanted to. Money never came into it, it was all about enjoyment. Even if Eastleigh quadrupled what they were paying me, I still couldn't have done it.

"I've got huge respect for what everyone has achieved at Eastleigh and I understand what Paul is looking for. He's ready to give that level of commitment and he wants a right-hand man who can do the same.

"If I had the choice of work or football, I'd pick football every day of the week. But I'm making good money from my job and I would be silly to risk that career for football."

Full interview in today's Daily Echo