PICKERING Town manager Steve Roberts has said "the door is always open" following the departures of five players from Mill Lane.

Sam Riches, Charlie Birley, Leon Osborne, veteran full-back Dave Merris and young shot-stopper Charlie Andrew all exited the Pikes last week.

Merris now lives in Guernsey, thus precipitating his departure, while Andrew is taking up a full-time coaching role at a professional club.

Roberts has wished his former players well in their new ventures, and says he and the ex-Pikes have parted ways as well as they can.

The boss said: “Mez (Merris) was a loss - he’s got experience and was great around the changing room. We wish him all the best. He’s a great lad and will keep in touch, even possibly come and see us when he visits family.

“I liked Charlie Andrew and I wanted to work with him again next year but he’s got an opportunity he can’t turn down with work, which I fully understand.

“I never leave people on bad terms so if circumstances change for anybody, the door’s always open for a conversation.

“They’ve been good for the club."

As these are the only five players Roberts is expecting to leave, his attentions now turn to rebuilding for next season.

A notable void to fill is between the sticks, where both the highly-rated Andrew and Riches ply their trade.

Two keepers have already expressed their interest in joining the Pikes for next season, Roberts said, and he might look for a third to try out in pre-season.

In the outfield, the relatively few departures leaves a solid core from last season on which to build.

Roberts has met some players already, with a few more meetings to be had in the near future.

“The core is pretty much finalised," Roberts explained. "That will make it easier to attract new players. The ones I spoke to are interested. Fingers crossed one or two will get done very soon.

“Players do speak to two or three clubs at a time - you’re never going to be the only club.

“I think if we get the lads I’ve spoken to, we’ll be a lot stronger again than we were the previous season so I’m looking forward to it."

Roberts is also optimistic about the potential impact of the new scholarship on the first team.

Assistant manager and former Pikes player Tony Hackworth and Leeds United Academy coach Mark Barber will head the scheme, which has been welcoming a steady influx of recruits in recent weeks.

The latest youngster announced is central midfielder Teddy Aldrich, from Malton side Brooklyn. He joins young talent like York side Wigginton Grasshoppers’ Oli Hunt and Scalby School’s Coby Rowe, as well as Scarborough Athletic duo Josh Kelly and Archie McNaughton.

The plan is for the scholarship to provide a pathway into the first team, which is set to benefit from a handy mix of youth and experience for the 2021/22 campaign.

Roberts explained: “If they are doing well, they will have an opportunity to be involved with the first team in training and things like that and see how far they can push themselves.

“It’s going to be a good nucleus of players to be looking at all the time. It’s a lot of games to watch, which I enjoy doing.

“If we get one or two over time in the first team, that would be fantastic.”