Henman excited by progress on and off pitch as Dereham Town build for the future

Exciting progress on and off the field at Dereham Town this summer has brought a refreshing buzz to the club, according to first team boss Matt Henman.

The Magpies have tied a host of their talented stars to contracts, improved their training facilities and secured high-profile friendlies against King's Lynn Town and Spalding.

Henman has also signed 'number one target' Matt Howard from Thetford Town and Wisbech Town's Nick Davey and believes the club's 'restructured' budget, allowing for performance-related pay, will help his side move forward come the big kick-off in August.

The Dereham boss, preparing to begin his fifth season in the Aldiss Park hot-seat, said: 'We've gone about our business quietly and professionally and it's been really positive.

'We've overhauled our player budget, have made the commitment to getting a stand behind each goal and basically wiped the slate clean. It almost feels like being at a new club in one sense and the fresh approach has made everyone really excited.

'The squad is already looking more balanced and stronger in key areas than it did. We've also safeguarded the club by putting our young players on contracts.

'We won't stand in anyone's way but if we do lose players we don't want to, like we did with Danny Beaumont last season, we'll get something by way of compensation.'

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Centre-back Howard, who is comfortable in a holding midfield role, impressed Henman last season when Dereham lost to Thetford in the FA Vase.

He also watched the defender during his side's Norfolk Senior Cup final defeat to Gorleston at Carrow Road and described his performance as 'outstanding'.

Striker Davey, a former Norwich City Academy youngster, spent time on loan at UCL outfit Yaxley after failing to hold down a regular first-team spot at Wisbech.

The Magpies manager said: 'I wanted to strengthen our centre-back options and Matt will do just that. He's good on the ball, can play in midfield and has a good attitude.

'Nick's got good movement off the ball and scores goals. By his own admission he probably needs to get fitter but he wants to do well and still has ambitions at playing at a higher level.'

The pair could be joined by a striker and two wide players in the coming weeks. Last season's supporters' player of the season Sam Borrer, Luke Hannant, Andy Wilton, Olly Willis and Adam Smith have signed contracts for next season while Nicky Howell enters the last of his two-year deal.

Former under-18 boss Tom Parke will assist Henman with first-team coaching duties while Simon Arundell is the club's new physio.

Danny Hawkins has taken over Parke's role with reserve-team boss John Musgrove, who will help Hawkins coach Dereham's highly-rated youngsters, being replaced by Stuart Woodhouse.