PHIL Simkin is hoping more of his players will be able to follow in the footsteps of Jake Smeeton after the Magpies defender signed a new contract with the county town club.

Smeeton was playing for the Skrill South outfit on non-contract terms but at the weekend put pen to paper on a deal with an option, exercisable by the club, for next season.

The news was a welcome boost for the Magpies and their fans following Saturday’s league defeat to Bore-ham Wood at the Avenue and, speaking ahead of tonight’s trip to Bishop’s Stortford (7.45pm), Simkin said there could be further positive developments soon.

“Smeets has signed a new contract and we are absolutely delighted,” he said. “I don’t think people realise what a good footballer he is.

“Having worked with him for a considerable time, I’m a great admirer of his.

“Not just his ability and technique, but the fact he is a winner and when you’re in the trenches you want someone like him next to you.

“He’s the first one (to sign) and we hope there will be a few more over the next couple of weeks.”

Smeeton and his fellow defenders did not have their best day at the office at the weekend, and Simkin has made it clear where Dorchester have to improve if they want to get something from tonight’s fixture.

He added: “All of these places are difficult to go to but we’ve dug in before and got something out of these games and we have got to do it again.

“The bottom line is we have to play better defensively than we did on Saturday, if we don’t we won’t get another point.

“We’re putting Saturday down to a one-off. You’re talking about experienced players having poor games but you can’t knock them because if we hadn’t had them we wouldn’t have survived this long.”

Striker Warren Byerley is rated at “no more than 50-50” to be fit for the game having picked up a dead leg on Saturday.

Jamie Gleeson will travel with the squad but it is not clear whether he is going to play a part.

The midfielder came off early in the second half against Boreham Wood after missing the clash with Staines because of a pelvic problem.

He went to see a chiropractor last Friday and got through the first half on his comeback but stiffened up during the interval and had to be substitute in the 50th minute.

Tonight’s opponents drew 1-1 at Tonbridge last time out and sit 10th in the league table with the Magpies one off the bottom.

Magpies (from): Walker-Harris, McCarthy, Smeeton, Jermyn, N Walker, Gleeson, Craig, Crittenden, Yeoman, Byerley, Losasso, S Walker, Way, Lanahan, Makoni, Twyford