Spencer Day is set to reward star performer Josh Huggins for sweeping the board at Farnborough FC's presentation ceremony by offering him a new deal to fend off the attentions of admiring clubs.
The versatile right back was named Manager’s Player, Players’ Player and Supporters’ Player of the Year at the annual Farnies awards bash on Saturday night, after establishing himself as a key member of a resolute Boro side which comfortably staved off the threat of relegation with one of the league’s lowest budgets.
Now the 23-year-old former Aldershot trainee, who netted nine goals from full back this season, has been offered a new deal to stay at Cherrywood Road for at least another year – and is expected to turn down a tempting enquiry from a rival club in order to commit his long-term future to the club.
“Getting Josh signed is a priority for us,” Day admitted.
“He has scored a lot of goals from right back this season, but at the same time has a fantastic attitude and desire to win.
“I remember he was so distraught after making a mistake at Weston which cost us the game, his determination to put things right in the next game, and that’s what he did.
"That just about sums him up – a deserved winner of the Player of the Year awards.
“We have received a firm enquiry for Josh but he wants to stay and we want to keep him, so it’s about putting a deal together.
"He’s provisionally agreed an offer so hopefully we can tie that up sooner rather than later and keep him on board for at least another season.”
Huggins is one of a number of Day’s current squad offered terms to come back for the next campaign – but that does not include mercurial winger Dan Bennett, who is the highest profile name to be released by the club after being left out of the squad for the final game of the season on Saturday for “disciplinary reasons”.
The talented playmaker has scored just two goals and made two assists in a disappointing season for Boro and lost his place in the starting line-up for the final month after a dressing room bust-up with the manager at Boreham Wood.
“I’ve been Dan’s biggest fan but he’s not had a very good season for us,” Day added.
"I have to look at other members of the squad and the dressing room and feel Dan needs to look at himself in the mirror in the summer and decide what it is he wants to do.”
Captain Alan Inns, Ollie Treacher, Phil Page, Adam Doyle, Alfred Bosch, Darryl Siaw and Young Player of the Year Courtney Fearn have all been offered terms for next season with most expected to return, while the likes of Tyrone Berry and Connor French have been invited to pre-season training.
Day is also in talks to make Matt Ball’s loan move from Stevenage permanent, although attempts to land bright spark Fraser Colmer on a permanent deal after a successful loan spell from Southampton appear to have ended, with the left-sided midfielder expected to embark on a scholarship in the United States, along with youth-teamer Jesse Bowers.
Day has also revealed that on-loan goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons has returned to Crystal Palace with a view to signing a big-money professional contract with a top club, although two or three goalkeepers have been lined up to replace him, notably two more young professionals on season-long loans.
At the same time, “a very small bid” has been tabled for a former favourite, while Day is looking to stretch his resources to the limit in an effort to piece together a potent strike force for next season with popular loanee JJ Hooper, from Northampton Town, top of his wish-list.
Thankfully, Day was able to sit back, relax and enjoy an entertaining final game of the season on Saturday which saw them snatch a point from visitors Eastbourne Borough with a 96th-minute penalty from Ball.
The midfield ace stroked the ball home to earn Boro’s 50th point of the campaign after Frankie Raymond was adjudged to have handled Huggins’ header on the goal line, causing him to be sent off.
With both teams assured of Skrill South football next season, this had all the hallmarks of a drab end-of-season affair, but thankfully for both sets of Borough die-hards that was never the case with four goals in the opening 31 minutes lighting the touchpaper for a free-flowing, open game, befitting of a tense mid-season cup tie.
Ball’s nonchalant, yet dramatic, spot-kick proved the final twist of an entertaining rollercoaster ride which began with him delivering the corner which led Huggins to head Farnborough into a second-minute lead.
Eastbourne, however, soon found themselves back behind the wheel when Ollie Rowe equalised with a fabulous 25-yard strike before Raymond put them in front from the penalty spot on 24 minutes after Ollie Treacher was harshly penalised for a high boot in an incident which looked suspiciously outside the box.
Parity was restored again seven minutes later with a classic route one goal – keeper Fitzsimons finding Hooper with a punt wide on the right and the lively striker took on the Eastbourne defence before firing into the far corner.
But after Hooper, Ball and Page were all denied by visiting keeper Ross, 16-year-old debutant Ryan Worrall popped up to hand Eastbourne the initiative before the home side staged their late escape.