New signing Gareth Heath is perfect captain material, says Needham Market manager Richard Wilkins

Gareth Heath scores for Leiston last season.

Gareth Heath scores for Leiston last season. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Needham Market manager Richard Wilkins says Gareth Heath is perfect captain material, after the veteran midfielder was handed the armband at Bloomfields.

The 37-year-old signed for Needham from Isthmian Premier Division rivals Leiston, on a two-year deal over the weekend, and will fill the void left by former skipper Kem Izzet, who has left the club to take over as manager of Thurlow Nunn Premier side, Stanway Rovers.

“Kem Izzet was the captain last year and when he did not do it, Ian Miller stepped in,” explained Wilkins, who moved up from his role as assistant manager to take over from Mark Morsley at the end of the season.

“The only other player that could have probably done the job is Keiran Morphew but in a way, at 22 or 23, when someone comes in of Gareth’s stature, that could be detrimental to Keiran in lots of ways.

“Gareth was very happy to take on the role and over the years he has helped youngsters on and off the pitch, and I am sure that is something that will continue.

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“He talks to the youngsters a lot, he is an extra voice along with the management team, and will help them through difficult times.

“He did that sort of thing for me at Leiston and that’s the sort of thing people don’t notice.”

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Heath netted 14 goals for Leiston last season as the Blues narrowly missed out on a play-off place, and also contributed 16 assists for Glenn Driver’s team.

“I spoke to Gareth when I was Bury manager and I tried to get him there,” said Wilkins, who managed the prolific midfielder at Leiston.

“For me he is one of the best non-league players around.

“He is consistent, experienced and keeps his standards high on and off the pitch.

“His attitude to matches is totally professional and over the last four or five years he has adapted his game.

“He can play in a number of positions, in the number 10 role, but also as the eight and the four – his knowledge and experience will be vital.”

Meanwhile, Rob Earle has been named as the club’s new first-team physio, joining the Marketmen from Ryman Premier rivals Brightlingsea Regent where he has been in the same role for a number of seasons.

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