ECCLESHILL United’s football chairman Adrian Benson has confirmed that the Eagles have lost influential skipper Jermaine Springer.

He has signed up for the British Army and will not be returning to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium for pre-season.

The news comes as a huge blow to the Eagles on the back of leading scorer Marcus Edwards’ transfer to Evo-Stik League neighbours Farsley.

Benson said: “Jermaine was our captain, our leader on the pitch and we will miss him but he goes with our best wishes. He is a young man and he wanted to sign up and serve Queen and country and that must be applauded.”

Springer left the game once before – to become a boxer. On both occasions, he kept Eccleshill informed of his intentions and made himself available for as many games as possible.

Benson added: “I think it shows his true character, and if you leave on good terms you are always welcome back.

"The same goes for Marcus, who also left us once before – for Ossett Town a couple of seasons ago, but he did it in the correct manner and we were delighted when he came back.

“We don’t expect Jermaine, who we hope has a very good career in the armed forces – I can’t think of a more laudable reason for him to leave the club – or Marcus to come back to play for Eccleshill again but we hope to see their faces at the club.

“They both hold this club very dear and I would be surprised if they didn’t drop in to see everyone when the opportunity presented itself.”

Springer was the rock on which the Eccleshill defence was built.

The centre back’s departure, along with Edwards’, who was the Toolstation Northern Counties East League Division One’s top scorer, will leave a big hole but Benson says the club have replacements lined up.

“Obviously they leave big boots to fill but Mark (Ellis) is in the States now looking at prospective recruits for the RIASA (Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy) programme that has supplied us with some great players over recent seasons.

“The local aspect of the club is very important to us and we very much want Bradford players involved at the club, so we will also be looking to bring players through from the area.

"To find a couple with the talent of Jermaine and Marcus will be a tall order but we will be searching.”