FC CLACTON boss Tom Austin has hailed the form, fitness and attitude of two of his leading lights heading into next season.

The Seasiders manager has been delighted with new signing Chris Ribchester, who again looked imperious in the heart of the defence during Saturday's pre-season friendly at Little Oakley.

And he is also excited by the prospect of Jake Clowsley firing on all cylinders next season, having netted another two goals in the 4-3 victory.

His double against the Acorns followed another goal in last Tuesday's opening friendly at West Bergholt.

"There are lots of things to be very positive about at the moment and not least the early form of Ribbo and Jake," said Austin.

"Ribbo has come back to the club this summer and really impressed me so far.

"He's a real presence in the heart of the defence and, with him at the back, we look more assured.

"It's no secret we conceded too many goals last season but I think he's going to make a big difference.

"At 29, he's in his prime and, with hundreds of games under his belt, his experience is exactly what we need right now.

"Our fans love him and it's great he's playing with a smile on his face, buying into what we're trying to do here.

"He wants feedback on his performances and still wants to keep learning and improving, which bodes well."

At the other end of the pitch, Austin has also been encouraged by the summer form of hitman Clowsley.

The Clacton favourite has an opportunity to step up and shine next season, following the recent departures of strikers Adam Hampson, to Brightlingsea Regent, and Karl Andrade, to Brantham Athletic.

Clowsley scored twice at Oakley and was joined on the scoresheet by Jack Clampin and Charlie Thompson.

"Jake looks very sharp and, again, he's enjoying his football and playing with a smile on his face," said Austin.

"He's fit, strong and scoring goals already.

"He looks sharp and I love the thought of him starting the season firing on all cylinders.

"If he stays fit and has a full season, I don't see any reason why he can't be a prolific scorer for us."

Austin also had words of praise for keeper Joe Fowler, who he felt had a commanding game against Oakley.

"I've been very impressed with him so far," he added.

"He looks good - his kicking and distribution has been much better and he's talking and communicating more."