Hawks boss Lee Bradbury believes next season will be a make-or-break one for Steve Ramsey.
By his own admission, the club’s player of the year for the 2011-12 season didn’t have the best of campaigns.
And with his contract at Westleigh Park up for renewal, there were doubts whether the midfielder’s stay at the club would be prolonged.
Those doubts were dispelled last week, though, when Ramsey was offered a new one-year deal.
Bradbury has always recognised the 23-year-old’s potential and felt he had shown enough in the final nine games of the season to indicate he was starting to regain his old appetite and form.
However, he’s called on the player, who had spells in and out of the team, to show more consistency if he wants to cement a regular starting place and a career in the professional game.
‘Steve has a lot to offer and, technically, is one of the best,’ said Bradbury.
‘He has played nearly 170 games for the club but is still only 23 years old.
‘He didn’t have a great season but I am expecting a lot more from him. If he wants to be in the side week-in, week-out he has to become more consistent.
‘He still wants to progress into full-time football so it will be a big year for him.’
Ramsey started last season in the first XI, before regularly finding himself on the substitutes’ bench.
He tended to drift out of games and failed to make the impact going forward he had in previous seasons.
At the start of the new year, he continued to be in and out of the side, while a sending off at Farnborough just before Easter didn’t help his cause.
His season was in danger of falling apart, but after regaining his place in the team against Billericay, he kept it for the last nine games.
And in those matches, Ramsey showed a huge improvement in his play.
‘Last season Rambo scored five goals whereas he got 14 the year before,’ added Bradbury.
‘He has got a lot more goals in his locker.
‘I want to see him take the shackles off and go and play with the front men.
‘I have spoken to the player about these things and it will be interesting to see the reaction in pre-season.’
Bradbury is in contract negotiations with other members of his squad but is keeping his cards close to his chest.
And it appears that AFC Bournemouth loanee Dan Strugnell could be close to returning.
Strugnell was a huge success in the heart of the Hawks defence.
Bradbury showed superb judgement bringing in young loan players from professional clubs to improve his squad.
Former loanee Dan Butler returned to Pompey to become a key figure in the first team.
Meanwhile, Alex Grant, who was released by the Blues at the end of the season following a loan spell at Westleigh Park, has signed a two-year deal with Stoke City.
And keeper Clark Masters has left the Hawks to sign for Blue Square Bet South rivals Tonbridge Angels.