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Smith steps up as player-assistant with Wood joining as first team coach

Bourne boss Rob Middleton is predicting a positive future for the United Counties League club after revamping his management team.

Middleton will be assisted for the coming campaign by Dan Smith who has taken on a player management role as number two at the JJ Mac Stadium.

Former Wake Lee Wood is also returning to the Division One club as first-team coach after work and family commitments forced Bruce Poynter to curtail his involvement.

Rob Middleton (centre) with Dan Smith (left) and Lee Wood. (11786500)
Rob Middleton (centre) with Dan Smith (left) and Lee Wood. (11786500)

And Middleton is relishing his first full season at the helm after taking sole responsibility midway through last term when work commitments forced Leigh Porter to resign from his joint management role.

Middleton said: "Bruce was a big part of what we did last season. Things were in a bad way in the early part of the season, but he helped give us a big lift.

"He got the lads buzzing in the warm-ups and training and was a big part of stablising the ship.

"Bruce has been a massive help and the door is always open for him to return to the club in some capacity if he ever wants to.

"But he's got a lot of work and family commitments which, with football as well, are putting a bit of a strain on him. He was honest with me and it allowed us to get some early plans in place.

"Dan's still a vital part of the playing team, but he's taken his coaching badges and is looking at his long-term future in the game.

"He knows a lot of the lads as well as players in the area and is really buzzing to take that next step.

"He's still got a big part to play as a player so we wanted to bring someone else in as well and, after meeting Lee, I was very impressed.

"He knows the club, has good contacts and the lads are happy to have him on board as well.

"All in all, it's really positive. We won't be getting above ourselves, but we want to see Bourne competing at the right end of the table and we have the potential to do that.

"There will always be teams in the division with a healthy budget, but we want to push on this season and the aim has to be to get in among the top six or seven and hopefully progress in a couple of rounds of the FA Vase to give something back to the club."

The Wakes return to pre-season training on Saturday, June 15, at the sports club in Milking Nook Drove.

Their first pre-season fixture is a home clash against Lincolnshire League side Hykeham Town on Saturday, June 29.

That's followed by a trip to UCL Premier Division side Pinchbeck United on Friday, July 5, before the South Kesteven Charity Cup clash with Lincoln City's Academy at the JJ Mac Stadium on Saturday, July 13.

They will then face either Harrowby United or Grantham Town in the same competition the following weekend before rounding off their pre-season with a home match against Peterborough League Premier Division side Peterborough Sports Development on Saturday, July 27.

Middleton is expecting to retain the services of the vast majority of last season's squad and has been further boosted by the earlier-than-expected return from injury of Craig Rook who is expected to start light training in pre-season after being sidelined for several months.

Middleton added: "Dan, Lee and myself are all speaking to players so there are a few of irons in the fire.

"The players from last season have all indicated that they are happy to stay as well which is really positive."

Steve Bills will also continue as reserve team manager with the Wakes and will be supported for the coming campaign by Adam Henderson, Grant Callaby and Matthew Cross.

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