Whitehawk boss Steven King believes he is building a squad capable of challenging in Conference south next season.

But the Hawks manager insists he will not be rushed into making further signings.

And he is happy to slip under the radar when the contenders for silverware for the coming season are discussed.

Cheltenham midfielder Sam Deering became Whitehawk’s fifth summer capture this week when he agreed a deal at the Enclosed Ground.

He follows former Crawley Town midfielder Sergio Torres, ex-Crystal Palace and Macclesfield goalkeeper Lance Cronin, centre-back Paul Lorraine – who was Ebbsfleet’s captain last season – and one-time Charlton defender Osei Sankofa in joining the Hawks.

With 12 players departed since the end of last season and only four regulars from last season confirmed so far as being retained, King is still short on numbers.

But he hopes to secure a deal to retain former Crystal Palace and Stevenage left-back Lee Hills and he has a number of other signings lined up.

King has also looked at several trialists in the two friendlies to date, which have resulted in 1-0 wins at Whitstable and Hastings.

Among them are former Macclesfield midfielder Enes Fermino, ex-Lewes right-back Jay Conroy plus Cuskic Mevluddin and Fratz Tchonang who have both played to a decent level in France.

King said: “I can see signs of how I want the team to play already shaping up.

“We are always going to get goals but we need to stop leaking them at the other end and that is something I have already started to address with the signings I have made.

“With Sergio and Sam, we have the makings of a very strong midfield, potentially the best in that division.

“I know who I want to add to the squad but I have to get them right.

“When you already have a side together, you only need to add three or four and you have probably already targeted them before the season has ended.

“When you are building a new side, you have so many players to look at and you need to make the right decision. Some won’t be right for you, some will be good but don’t fit in to how you want to play. That is a process in itself.

“We are slowly getting there and I have already signed players who I shouldn’t be able to get for this level.

“There will be more. There are players who are reluctant to sign because they want something in the Football League but when that doesn’t happen we will be the next in line.”

Whitehawk will continue their preparations for the new season with a home friendly against Lewes on Tuesday.

Having only stayed up on goal difference on the final day of last season, King is surprised to hear some people talk about his team as play-off contenders.

But at the same time, that will be his goal – as it has been at every club he has managed.

He said: “We would be happy to slip under the radar. People can talk about the other sides and how strong they are looking – and we can just poodle along.

“But people who know me will know I want to have a team that can challenge.”

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