The fight is on to be Gosport Borough’s No1 next season.
That’s the message from manager Alex Pike after he swooped to sign experienced keeper Gareth Barfoot from AFC Totton.
It means there will be no relaxing for highly-rated current No1 Nathan Ashmore.
Pike is adamant the duo will fight it out for the place as Borough bid to make their mark in the Blue Square Bet South.
Ashmore has been linked with Football League clubs such as Bournemouth and Walsall.
And Pike believes the coup of landing Barfoot and the increased competition will only help Ashmore improve.
The Gosport boss said: ‘Ever since Nathan has been with us he hasn’t really been pushed.
‘We have brought Barfoot in to do just that and both know the place is up for grabs.
‘It is equal opportunity and up to the players what they do with it.
‘Nathan is ambitious and wants to get into professional football.
‘If Gosport can help him achieve that then we will.
‘I’ve had some very good goalkeepers over time but none as good as he is at his age.
‘Our new lad has Conference South experience with Eastleigh and played in the Southern League with Totton last season.
‘Increased competition will help Nathan get to another level.’
Pike has also pulled off a major coup in adding experienced coach Shaun North to his backroom staff.
North has agreed to help out with pre-season training and Pike hopes he may then extend his stay.
He would like to have the former Pompey, Torquay and Bristol Rovers coach involved throughout the season.
‘We recognise moving into a higher level that we need to ramp things up more, both on and off the pitch,’ said Pike.
‘Getting Shaun North involved is a major coup for us.
‘He will work alongside Mick Catlin, who has done a great job for us.
‘Shaun will allow us to freshen things, bring in new ideas and give us something a little different.
‘It also sends a message to the players that we mean business.
‘Hopefully we will keep Shaun involved through the season.
‘But that will depend on other offers he might receive.’
Pike would like to add another central defender to his squad before the season starts.
He said: ‘We don’t need to press the panic button and can make sure we get the right player who will fit in with the squad.’
Borough return to training on Saturday in preparation for their first pre-season friendly at Blackfield & Langley on July 13.