Simon Wormull paid tribute to departing Burgess Hill Town skipper Gary Elphick after the defender’s decision to leave the club on Sunday.
The former-Worthing boss joined Hill at the start of last season but felt he needed some time away from from the game.
Despite the blow of losing Elphick, Wormull felt the defender’s departure could lead other players in his squad to step up to a leadership role.
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He said: “It’s been challenging for Gary since he signed for the club.
“He’s had a few niggly injuries which he’s struggled with. We’ve had to play him through a couple of them as well.
“There’s no one better at the club for attitude and desire. He was playing very well but he thought in his own mind that he needed to have a break from football and get his head together again.
“I totally understand that but it’s a big loss for us because he’s a leader.
“It now means others have to step up. As much as we’re sad to see him go it does give people opportunities to step up and take on that role.”
The departure of Elphick was offset by the signing of experienced midfielder Steve Sargent from Bostik South East side East Grinstead Town.
The former Crawley Town and Horsham man made a goalscoring debut in Hill’s 4-4 away draw with Haringey Borough on Saturday and Wormull was pleased to have him on board.
He added: “I know Steve very well and what he brings is a lot of experience and he’s still fit enough to play.
“He came on and did great for us on Saturday. He just slowed the game down and got control of it.
“He knows he’s not going to be playing week-in week-out but he knows he’s got a big part to play in what we’re trying to do.”