JOE Ellul has returned to Billericay Town ahead of their National League South play-off tilt next season.

The experienced defender, who ended the season at Maldon & Tiptree in the Isthmian North, will link up with Town for the third time having left under a cloud last October.

Ellul departed following a run of games on the substitutes bench, but is now back at the AGP Arena.

He joins fellow new addition and winger Connor Hunte - formerly of Kingstonian and Greenwich Borough - at the club.

And the signings particularly pleased owner Glenn Tamplin and manager Harry Wheeler.

“Joe left last year but I am so pleased to have him back,” said Tamplin. “He wanted to play every game and that wasn’t possible at the time. But he has learned from it and he has the biggest heart.

“He is a proper man and we need men at the back,” added Wheeler. “It was a very competitive environment when Joe left, there was a lot of change and Joe likes to be settled. It wasn’t the right time for him then.

“Connor Hunte is full of ability. He has had his issues but you get rough diamonds and there is loads of potential there. I back myself to get the best out of him.”

Tamplin confirmed six more signings would be made following the departures of nine of last year’s squad.

Billy Bricknell, who scored 34 goals including a hat-trick in the Isthmian League Cup final, is the headline departure.

Luke Rooney, Liam Hughes, Nick Wheeler and Kevin Foley have left after a short stint at the club while Jack Giddens’ three year spell also ends – having played a key role in both of Billericay’s cup triumphs last season.

Ollie Sprague, Byron Lawrence and Sanchez Watt also depart – with the three spending the entirety or part of last term out on loan.

And Tamplin says he is looking for more pace in forward areas.

“We believe this year we need more pace up front,” he said. “We have Jake [Robinson] of course and Adam [Cunnington] offers a different dimension.

“Billy is fantastic and he has it all but he is not the fastest. We have added pace out wide with Connor Hunte and with him and Ricky Modeste on the wings we are well placed there.”

Wheeler confirmed Billericay’s squad would be significantly smaller than last year but he was looking for most of the club’s business to be concluded by the middle of this week.

Tamplin has bumped the weekly budget up from his original plan of £10,000 to £15,000 for the 2018/19 season as he targets the play-offs.

And both he and Wheeler believe another successful season is attainable.

“I want to win or be right up there in the play-offs,” said Tamplin. “It is a tough league but I am excited.”

“We may not spend £15,000 a week but we know we want to be in the top bracket of the league.

“The squad is good enough to win the league but it is not that easy.”

Wheeler added that Tristan Lewis had been appointed as head coach and the club would also be bringing in a sports scientist in the weeks ahead.

“I have worked with Tristan before and he has a very good knowledge of players,” said Wheeler.

“He can match my standards and I am pleased to have him here.”