HEREFORD manager Josh Gowling says he has signed a core of players with the right character to push the club forward.
This week the Bulls welcomed defender Dan Jones, goalkeeper Paul White and midfielder Yan Klukowski to Edgar Street.
The club also re-signed Lenell John-Lewis, Tom Owen-Evans, Jared Hodgkiss, Ben Pollock, Kyle Finn and Demetri Brown, who joined contracted goalkeeper Brandon Hall.
“Since I’ve taken over the lads have wanted to stay and that’s the biggest thing,” said Gowling.
“I’ve got a group of lads here that are dying to play for the football club, put that shirt on and give it their all.
“You have got to sell the club, we are at this level and players don’t necessarily want to play at this level. But if you look at the stature of this football club, it’s a big club and they play in front of big crowds.
“The biggest thing for me was having a core of players who have got the right character who will push this football club forward.”
A standout signing for the Bulls is former Wolves, Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday and Port Vale left-back Jones, who is making his first appearance in non-league football.
The 33-year-old is described by Gowling as ‘quick and strong’ and can also play the left side of centre-half.
“He’s a great acquisition for the football club,” said Gowling.
“I got him down here, we spoke face-to-face and I told him my ideas of what I wanted for the football club moving forward, how I want to play and how I saw him fit in with our system.
“I’m glad he bought into it and he was dying to come and sign. We got it done pretty much within a week, so I’m delighted to have him here.
“Those are the kind of players we need in the dressing room.”
The Bulls have also made the permanent signing of experienced striker John-Lewis who impressed after arriving initially at Edgar Street in February.
The 31-year-old striker scored three goals in six games, including two during a 4-1 victory at York City before lockdown.
“Keeping Lenny (Lennell John-Lewis) at the club was one of our priorities,” added Gowling.
“When he came into the football club he changed players around him. He changed their game, gave them confidence and was getting goals himself.
“He’s the best striker in this league by a country mile.”
Gowling also captured the re-signing of fans favourite Owen-Evans who he recalled from loan after taking the temporary manager’s role last season.
“TOE (Tom Owen-Evans) had a period last season when he wasn’t enjoying his football,” added Gowling.
“We brought him back and he started enjoying it again and he had a smile on his face.
“To his own admission he needs to be better, we’ve had conversations about that, and I’ve had a frank conversation with everyone in the team with what I want moving forward.
“But TOE just wants to play football and enjoy it. Once you get TOE enjoying his football he’s a phenomenal player.”
The Bulls have also signed Klukowski in a player/coach role.
The 33-year-old midfielder played alongside Gowling at Torquay United and is a ‘lead phase’ coach at Forest Green Rovers.
“He’s had a good career and take away his coaching he’s a good player,” added Gowling.
“He’s strong, he’s determined, he’s focused and professional.”
There will also be competition for the starting goalkeeper position for Hall after the Bulls signed shot stopper White.
The 25-year-old has made over 200 appearances for Kettering over the past four seasons.
He played against Hereford twice last season and impressed manager Gowling on both occasions.
“He’s good with his feet, he commands his box, comes from crosses, is a good shot stopper and is vocal,” added Gowling.
“He’s a bit of a crazy keeper I would say. He was dying to join and has been ringing me non-stop during the lockdown.
“I’ve spoke to Brandon (Hall) and he’s a good lad. He’s done well last season, the fans like him and there is obviously going to be competition for that spot.
“We need competition throughout and people who are pushing for each other on. If they are not starting then we want people pushing for that shirt. I think we’ll get that this season.”
The Bulls have also re-signed young players Pollock and Finn.
Gowling hopes that they can learn off the more experienced players in the squad.
He added: “We need that energy, you can’t have loads of fossils in the team.
“We want to build an environment here where the younger players can learn from that experience.
“Growing up through my career that was something pivotal for me moving forward, the transition from a young age to men’s football and then progressing through the leagues.
“We’re trying to build that environment and I think players like Kyle (Finn) will really thrive from having these players around them.”