FC CLACTON boss Tom Austin wants to keep his squad together for as long as possible – but admits it is a good sign that rival clubs are sitting up and taking notice of his players.

Both Jake Plane and Harry McDonald have this week passed up the opportunity to move on to pastures new.

Neither even spoke to the club in question because they were so keen to stay at the Rush Green Bowl.

Both have established themselves as key men within a Clacton squad that are now tenth in the Thurlow Nunn League premier division, following Saturday’s 3-1 victory at home to Thetford Town, as well as still going strong in the FA Vase and League Challenge Cup.

“Jake and Harry have both said they don’t want to leave,” Austin told the Gazette.

“They didn’t even want to speak to the other club because they were so keen to stay at Clacton.

“Obviously that’s great news for me.

“I’d never stop a player progressing and if an opportunity came along to play at a higher level, I’d be pleased for them and wish them luck.

“But this would have been a sideways move and I’d have been disappointed to lose either of them.

“It’s great that they’re so happy here.

“They enjoy being part of our dressing room and they’re buying into what we’re trying to do.”

Austin accepts that if his players keep producing the goods, they will come to the attention of other clubs.

However, he sees that as a positive because it means things are going well at the Bowl.

“Of course, if we keep doing well then other clubs are going to show an interest in our players,” he said.

“That’s only natural and something that’s out of my control.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it but, for now, I’m just pleased to be doing so well.

“The fact other clubs are sitting up and taking notice shows we’re doing the right things.”

The big negative from Saturday’s victory was a nasty injury suffered by Lee Clowsley.

The defender ended up in hospital with ankle ligament damage and faces a spell on the sidelines.

“It’s such a shame because Lee’s been playing very well,” added Austin.

“Now it looks like he could be out of action for a few weeks and maybe a couple of months.”

Clacton head to Thurlow Nunn League leaders Histon on Saturday before a home date with White Ensign in the League Cup third round on Tuesday night.