EAST Thurrock United boss John Coventry is overjoyed after completing the signing of former Southend United trainee Alex Clark.

The attacking midfielder agreed terms following Rocks' 4-2 defeat to a youthful Colchester United side at Rookery Hill.

And Coventry admits he came close to acquiring Clark 12 months ago.

"Alex Clark has been working with us throughout pre-season and I like him," said Coventry.

"That now gives us 16 signed players and there will be one or possibly two more, at most, coming in.

"Alex did pre-season with us after being released by Southend last year.

"I came close to signing him that time, but I didn't think he was ready for National League South football.

"Because of that, I told him to go away and play some men's football elsewhere to get some experience.

"He did that and went to Three Bridges.

"Alex then asked if he could come back and join us for pre-season.

"I can see he has developed physically over the course of the last year and I think he will be a great addition for us."

Clark has been involved in Rocks' first two pre-season friendlies, with the most recent being the loss to youngsters from League Two side Colchester.

The U's boasted a three-goal lead before Mitch Gilbey, who has returned to the club from Tilbury, hit back on the stroke of half-time.

East Thurrock reduced the deficit further moments after the interval as George Brown, another summer signing, coolly converted from the penalty spot having been hauled down.

Rocks went in search of a leveller but their hopes of claiming a draw were ended as Colchester added a fourth goal in the closing exchanges.

Coventry was positive after the encounter.

"We always knew what it was going to be like against a young, professional side that has been training full-time," added Coventry.

"We knew we would get a runaround, but that's what you want at this stage of pre-season because it will help to improve our fitness.

"In all honesty, we didn't see much of the ball in the first half but, after the break, we got closer to them and got more of the ball.

"It was a good exercise for us and a lot of positives came from the game.

"We had 17 players and that was good because it allowed me to look closely at them individually."