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Former Diss Town trio arrive to give East Harling a big boost

If East Harling had to start their 2020/21 Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Division One campaign tomorrow, there would be no complaints from manager Stacey Lawrence.

It has been a positive summer so far for the boss, who has followed up the recent signing of Hayden Pain with the addition of two more former Diss Town players.

Midfielder Reece White, who has also played for the likes of higher-league AFC Sudbury, and the versatile Stacey Payne have both put pen to paper at Church Road, helping to bolster a squad that Lawrence believes is now the strongest during his tenure.

Reece White, Hayden Pain and Stacey Payne have joined East Harling (38537489)
Reece White, Hayden Pain and Stacey Payne have joined East Harling (38537489)

“If we had to start the season now, I’d happily do that,” said Lawrence, who in January went past the 200-mark of games in charge of the Green Army.

“A lot of the time it takes a while to get the squad together. It can be eight games in by the time you are settled, and if you’ve lost four of those, you are never going to claw that back and it ends up being a mid-table season.

“This is the biggest and best squad I’ve had. We’ve been able to add some real quality, but they are good lads as well and that retains the squad’s spirit.

“The three new lads will all provide something we haven’t had – I cannot wait to get started now.”

As far as 23-year-old White is concerned, Lawrence believes Harling can offer him the platform to get ‘back on track’.

He has played for a number of Thurlow Nunn League clubs in recent seasons, but has been unable to secure a regular place within the starting line-up.

But while his move to Harling represents a step down in terms of levels, Lawrence is confident it will be a positive switch in the long term.

“I think Reece needs to get his head down and play a full season,” said the long-serving manager.

“He needs to get back on track a little bit and get to a stage where clubs are phoning him with their interest because he’s been playing well for us.

“Reece wants to play at a higher level ultimately and that is a good thing – maybe we can be the go-between for him.

“He’s been fantastic in training so far and not missed a session.

“He is going to improve us, even if he ends up just staying for one season.

“Hopefully he can be a key part of us achieving something next season.”

Payne, who scored four goals in 23 appearances for Diss during 2018/19, has also made an impression during recent small group training sessions.

“He looks like he has been with us for years,” said Lawrence. “He has been enjoying being part of the group and is raring to go.

“Stacey is a really good lad and will give us versatility because he can play in three or four positions.”

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