CHESHAM United have lost four first team players this summer and expect to lose more before the new season starts, but boss Andy Leese has not taken the departures laying down with new arrivals already announced in what he describes as the the most difficult close season of his management career.

The club were rocked by the sudden exits of front three James Potten, Chris Dillon and Drew Roberts, with John Kyriacou also moving on.

But while Leese is surprised and disappointed by the departures – and admits more players could follow them away from The Meadow – he and the squad are already moving on.

Midfielder Andy Ballard has joined from Oxford City, as has left sided attacker Mark Bell, who was with Nuneaton in the Conference last season.

Also arriving are right back-come-midfielder Ashley Smith, fellow defender Tom Baddeley and former Chesham top scorer Simon Thomas, who returns to link up with Inih Effiong up front.

Leese said: “As the board know and supporters may have guessed, it has been a testing summer. The most trying I have known after 15 years in management.

“Players have departed the club through their own choices, not ours.

“We may well be paying the price for not going up, but the consensus in the squad post season was that we all wanted one more go at promotion. That has turned out not to be the case.

“Unfortunately I don’t think we have seen the end of the departures yet, with other players seeking to move and being tempted to follow those that have gone.

“The timing is not great, but we have to move on. The club is backing us as club owner Roger Payne pointed out last week, and we have to create a team that is capable of competing again at the top end of the division.

“We have done that before, and anyone who knows me will appreciate that I will not be happy with a team that is not capable of competing at the top end of any division I have managed in.

“It may yet end up a transitional season but that is certainly not the intention.

“Water flows quickly under the bridge in football and the good news is that we have been able to agree terms to bring some exciting new and familiar faces to the club as we look to meet the challenge of another tough season.”

Darren Purse, Shane Gore, Dave Fotheringham, Laurie Stewart, Alex Brown, Danny Gordon, Richard Graham and Stefan Hamilton have all agreed to stay with discussions ongoing with other players.