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AFC start planning for next season without experienced midfielder Eagle

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MOVING ON: Rob Eagle has left AFC Sudbury to join Leiston
MOVING ON: Rob Eagle has left AFC Sudbury to join Leiston

AFC Sudbury are planning for life back in Isthmian League Division One North without the services of experienced midfielder Rob Eagle.

The 30-year-old, who has previously played for the likes of Norwich City, Grimsby Town and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, joined The Yellows last summer.

But this week the club announced that he was moving on to pastures new, after agreeing to join fellow Suffolk side Leiston for an undisclosed fee.

Eagle made 47 appearances for AFC during their debut season in the Ryman League Premier Division, a figure only surpassed by Adam Tann, James Baker and Craig Parker, but he could not help prevent relegation at the end of the campaign.

Sudbury assistant manager Andy Reynolds revealed Eagle’s move to Leiston — his hometown team who finished two points short of the Premier Division play-offs last term — had been in the pipeline for a number of weeks.

“We had a conversation with Rob as the season was finishing up and he made us aware of the interest coming from Leiston,” Reynolds said.

“The deal nearly happened last year, but he chose to join us instead.

“His personal circumstances have changed, with regard to his life at home, and the move to Leiston has helped him out.

“We don’t want people here who can’t commit to the club fully, and Rob has been honest with us from the start.”

The fee accepted by AFC for Eagle, who joined the club after spending four years at Lowestoft Town, has been kept under wraps by the two clubs, who will meet in a pre-season friendly this summer.

Sudbury have announced some of their pre-season fixtures for 2017, which includes games with sides from both Ipswich Town and Norwich City.

Jamie Godbold’s men begin their preparations with a double-header at home to Haverhill Rovers and Great Yarmouth Town on July 8, before hosting an Ipswich Town Under-23s side on July 12.

The Yellows will then face trips to Brightlingsea Regent (July 21), Leiston (July 29) and Norwich City Under-18s (August 5), with their final scheduled home friendly against Cambridge City on July 25.

Before then, Godbold and Reynolds will be hard at work putting together their squad for next season’s return to Division One North, with negotiations with players already under way.

AFC have revealed that three players from the club’s academy, strikers Ollie Dunlop and Mekhi McKenzie, and Joe Wright, have all signed contracts.

Dunlop and McKenzie have penned two-year deals with the club, while midfielder Wright has penned a one-year deal.

“I’m really pleased for them and we look forward to working with them and helping with their development,” Reynolds said.

“They all made their debuts in the first team under different circumstances last season, and all coped really well coming into the dressing room.”