Hawks manager Shaun Gale admitted he could not stand in the way of Wes Fogden’s move to AFC Bournemouth.
The club’s leading goalscorer and mercurial midfielder has been snapped up by the Cherries ahead of tomorrow’s Blue Square Bet South contest against Bromley at Westleigh Park (3pm).
The popular 23-year-old has joined the League One side on a three-year deal after making 118 appearances for the Hawks over a four-season period.
Gale conceded losing Fogden was a huge blow but insisted it was a good deal for both his club and the player.
‘Selfishly, I would like to have kept him but it would be wrong to stand in the player’s way,’ said Gale.
‘He deserves his chance because he is a great kid and a very good player.
‘When he first came to us, we talked about the need for him to score more goals and he has worked to get that into his game.
‘He had a great season last year and I was surprised no-one came in for him then.
‘I am convinced he would have got 20-plus goals for us this season.
‘He will be difficult to replace but it will give an opportunity to someone at the club to step in and fill the gap.’
Gale has already moved to replace Fogden with the capture of former Pompey striker Vincent Pericard on a short-term deal.
The Hawks need a win against Bromley to haul themselves away from the wrong end of the table.
Gale’s men are currently 17th, two points above the relegation zone after making a disappointing start to the campaign.
They are unbeaten in their past three games, though, and Gale will demand his side maintain their improvement.
Earlier in the season the Hawks kept paying the price for silly individual mistakes and poor defending.
Gale believes his players have eradicated that from their game and he is now targeting to be around the play-off zone by Christmas.
Full-back Jon McDonald could come back into the reckoning after injury, but fellow defender Jake Newton is on World Cup qualifying duty with Guyana.
Paul Hinshelwood and Chris Holland have returned to training and could be considered.
Striker Scott Jones has been troubled by a calf problem but he put in a good 90 minutes for Brading in the Wessex League in midweek.
Loanee Conor Okus has returned to Dagenham & Redbridge but the Hawks have taken 32-year-old Carlos Geteski on trial after he left Eastleigh, although he is unlikely to feature tomorrow.
Hawks: Beazely, Ryan, Ramsey, McDonald, Pearce, Woodford, Barrett, Peacock, Igoe, Braham-Barrett, Jones, Whyte, Holland, Ashmore, Palmer, Hinshelwood.