WOKING have made Welling striker Loick Pires their first summer signing.
Pires, 22, joined United from Leyton Orient at the start of the 2010-11 campaign and went on to score 20 goals in 60 appearances for the Wings.
He becomes Garry Hill’s first signing since Cards were crowned Blue Square South champions in April.
Speaking exclusively to the News & Mail, Pires said: “My first goal for Welling was against Woking with a free-kick a couple of years ago so I’ve had a bit of joy against them.
“But in recent times I’ve seen the quality that was there and I’ve been to the stadium a couple of times so it was a club I rated highly regardless of whether it was a club I joining or not.
“Obviously I knew a lot about Garry Hill and his pedigree so that came into it once he asked me to join. I’m looking forward to testing myself at a higher level.Once I’m on the pitch I’m more than confident I can get the better of my opponent and one thing I can guarantee is that no one will work harder than me. That’s an attitude Garry Hill shares and that is where we met eye-to-eye
“I’m not fazed by the teams in the division. Compared to the Lutons and the Wrexhams Woking are a smaller club but to me, if you are on the pitch, it is 11 versus 11 and me against a centre-half.
“You’ve got to believe you can get the best of him. Whether they are playing two or three leagues above you or just above you in the league, it’s irrelevant to me.
“Once I’m on the pitch I’m more than confident I can get the better of my opponent and one thing I can guarantee is that no one will work harder than me. That’s an attitude Garry Hill shares and that is where we met eye-to-eye.
“When I was at Leyton Orient I was fed bread crumbs so I can’t really count that as a League One experience.
“All my experience has come in the Blue Square South and although there were five or six clubs interested from the conference, my heart was set on joining Woking from the off-set because I liked what he had to say and I like his philosophy.
“I really bought into that, amongst other things, and I thought it was the right time to test myself.
“There was an option for me to go into the conference last year but I was in a position where I thought it would be best to do another year in the Blue Square South and gain promotion – which I came very close to. Right now, at my age, I think it’s the right time to test myself.
“In my first year at Welling I came in as a winger but I think myself now as more of a central striker. I can drift out wide, I’m quite pacy, I’m a lot stronger than I used to be and I’ve got a goal in me, too.
“I am primarily a target man but I like to think I can play on the deck too and I feel I’ve got a lot to offer the team in many areas.
“Defensively I do my job in terms of marking and I feel a threat going forward as well. The minimum you’ll get from me is hard work. Things might not go my way but I will run channels and work hard, that’s the minimum I will do.”
The announcement was accompanied by news that Kevin Betsy, Mark Ricketts, Adam Newton and Adam Doyle have all signed new deals at Kingfield.
A delighted Betsy said: “I enjoyed my three months towards the end of the season coming back so it was pretty much a no-brainer to sign a new deal.
“With the manager and Thommo committing their future to the club and after hearing their plans for the new season, it was easy to sign.
“The fans have always been fantastic with me and it’s like coming home again really.
“It’s an enjoyable place to play football and that is what I want to do at this stage in my career.
“I think the manager will draw on the experience of all the players at the club. He’s experienced in this division as am I and so is Steve Thompson.
“Thommo played in the conference for many years and when he was an assistant manager in a higher division he would always scout players in the non-league.
“They know the scene extremely well, they know the level, they know what’s required to do well in the league and keep us out of the relegation places.
“We are optimistic because we have the ability to perform well. We’ve got the nucleus of a good squad from last season and hopefully we can continue in the same vein.”
Academy graduates George Frith and Jack Mazzone have also signed first team contracts.
One player on his way out of Kingfield is Alan Inns who confirmed today via Twitter that he will not be extending his stay at Woking.
Inns made 33 appearances for the champions last season and scooped both the Cards Trust and Woking FC player of the year awards at the end of season trophy presentation.
He said: “Gutted to leave, but work and family to think about! Can’t fully commit 100 per cent. Been a great year personally. Great club/fans/lads #champions.”