DANNY Heale believes Canvey Island are building a squad capable of challenging at the top of the Isthmian North once again.

The Gulls missed out on promotion last season, defeated 3-1 by Haringey Borough in the play-off final last month.

But Heale is determined to return to the Isthmian Premier League and has been working hard to add to his group.

Former East Thurrock United and Concord Rangers midfielder James White has linked up with the club, following a short stint with the Gulls during last season’s play-offs.

Ex-Beach Boys and Basildon United attacker Jordan Cox has also made the move to the Frost Hire Stadium, as has former Canvey winger Marlon Agyakwa.

And Heale said he was really pleased with the business he has managed to get over the line.

“We have recruited strongly and things are coming along nicely now,” said Heale.

“We know James White is too good for the level we are at, but he has agreed to join us. His wife is expecting a baby in the next week, so his personal circumstances are different. This level involves less travelling and it works for us.

“I know Whitey well and he is someone I trust. He played for us in the play-offs last season and knows the way we work.

“He is a leader and a good footballer for his side. We needed to recruit in that area as I felt last season, especially away from home, we lacked that guidance in midfield and we are pleased to have him.

“Jordan fell out of love with football but has clear talent. He scored a hat-trick against us for Concord in pre-season last year so I have kept tabs on him and if we can get him fit and smiling then it is a great bit of business.

“With George Sykes and Mitch Gilbey up front we have a strong front line and he adds to that.

“Marlon’s move was a bit of a fluke. I have worked with him for a few years but he moved up north. When we lost Ryan Charles [to Bishop’s Stortford] I thought I would see what he was doing and by coincidence he said he was moving back south.

“We have retained a lot of players and we weren’t far away last year so we are well placed.”

Heale added that Canvey will be signing a goalkeeper today to replace Henry Newcombe.

And he also had words of praise for Mitchell Gilbey, after the 21 goal striker was named in the Isthmian North Team of the Year for last season.

“It is well deserved,” said Heale. “I actually started him at right wing back in pre-season after an injury to James Walker. We pushed him up front and he hit the ground running. I am really pleased for him.”