WEYMOUTH have been given a huge boost in their plans for next season, as they announced Chris Shephard has signed a new one-year deal with the club.

The Terras’ ace sat down to agree a fresh contract with club chairman Chris Pugsley after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Merthyr Town.

Shephard, who got his name on the scoresheet as well as providing an assist against the Martyrs at the weekend, initially joined the club in July 2014 and has been a star performer over the last two seasons.

At the club’s end-of-season presentation last term, the former Eastbourne Borough man stole the show, picking up prizes for the supporters’ home player of the season, the players’ player of the season and the manager’s player of the season.

And Pugsley expressed his delight at retaining one of the squad’s key assets for next term.

“The guy wanted to stay and had been approached by different teams in the league but he has agreed a deal for, probably, less money than he could have got elsewhere,” he told Echosport.

“He is probably the best player in the league and you saw on Saturday the finish he put in.

“He’s a class act and, if you don’t have Sheps on board you are struggling from day one but he is on board and 100 per cent committed.

“He is the foundation. Hopefully, we can build the team around him now.

“He likes working with Jase (Matthews, manager) and myself and he is just keen to stay here, which is brilliant. It now sets a precedent for the club for next season and encourages the players we have got in the side to follow him and sign as well.”

Also commenting on the capture of Shephard next term, boss Matthews added: “It’s a huge boost and, for me, I think he is the best player in the league.

“When he plays, teams double up on him so someone else is usually free on the pitch.

“I am buzzing that he has agreed to sign and that’s the catalyst for six or seven to sign deals in the next two weeks.

“On the whole, I feel we have an excellent young side.”

On Weymouth’s flickering chances of making the play-offs, Matthews added: “The two injuries we had over Easter killed us a little bit with (Ben) Thomson and Shephard, but we beat a good side at home on Saturday and should have been four or five up.

“We have to take the positives, results didn’t go for us on Saturday but we are still in there fighting and, if we win on Tuesday, we are still in there with a chance. That’s all you can ask for.”

Dorset Echo

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