DANNY Heale says he is hopeful of keeping the Canvey Island squad together, despite their relegation to the Ryman North.

The Gulls manager is meeting with a number of players this week, as he looks to tie them to the club for the 2017/18 season.

Goalkeeper Conor Gough and defenders Steve Sheehan and Ashley Dumas have confirmed they will be at the Frost Financial Stadium next term.

And Heale says he is hopeful of keeping last season’s star performer George Sykes, who ended the season with 21 goals, at the club.

“We are in contact with all the members of the squad and I will be speaking to more of them during the course of this week,” said Heale, who has been in charge at the club for four seasons.

“Ashley Dumas, Conor Gough, and Steve Sheehan are three that will be here next year and we are very hopeful on a few others as well.

“I will have more news towards the end of the week but things are moving in a positive direction at the moment.

“Everything is going to plan in terms of retaining players and we have some new, exciting additions as well.

“We are working with George, who is obviously an important player for us. He scored 21 goals for us last season and I would love to keep him here.”

One player who will not be at Canvey next season is defender George Allen.

The former Welling defender made 13 appearances for the Gulls after joining in January, although he struggled with a number of injuries in his short stint.

And Heale said, while he wanted to keep the 22-year-old, he wished him all the best with East Thurrock in the National League South.

“I wanted to keep George and he obviously is a young lad that wants to play at a higher level,” he said.

“He did very well for us but he has missed games because of injury and that was a big blow for us.

“Hopefully East Thurrock will get the best out of him. It will be interesting to see how he does there.”

>Canvey have been confirmed as participants of the Ryman North next season by the FA, meaning they can look forward to an Essex derby with Bowers & Pitsea.