ALVECHURCH have fought off approaches from rivals Stourbridge to keep defender Josh Ezewele.

The right-back is under contract at Lye Meadow but has been the subject of bids from the Glassboys, who are now managed by former Church boss Ian Long.

New Alvechurch manager Darren Byfield said: "Josh had his head turned at the end of the season by a very lucrative offer to move to Stourbridge FC and, for the level, we received two decent financial offers from the Glassboys to sell him.

"I turned both offers down because, quite simply, I didn’t think they met the valuation of the player.

"As Longy said, 'he’s the best right back in the league' but if we’re going to take this season seriously, there’s very little point strengthening them while weakening us at the same time.

"It’s clear how highly rated they think he is because the chairman’s phone rang daily while he was on holiday last week and the talk was all about Josh.

"There are rumours flying around of tapping up and underhand tactics but the club had four great years working with Ian, so they know his style and there won’t be any official complaints from us.

"Josh is still a young lad with an extremely bright future ahead of him and for now at least, he’s agreed to get his head down and work.

"Bradford asked about him last month and Cheltenham Town want him in on trial in a few weeks time, so to move sideways, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time."

Alvechurch start the new campaign with a trip to Royston Town this Saturday.

Byfield added: "It looks like we’re ready now to start the season with visible improvements being seen every training session. We start with a real tough game away at Royston Town who, from what I can gather, could legitimately claim we nicked a point or two off them last season.

"The squad is starting to gel and with the news regarding Josh, I think the fans can now start to look forward with hope as we embark on our second campaign at the level."