PORTLAND United boss Brendon King admitted he is “disappointed to lose” left-back James Cox to Royal Navy duties.

Cox, 18, has enjoyed a breakthrough year at the Blues, cementing his position ahead of established full-back Crit Clarke, who moved to Hamworthy United in mid-season.

However, former Bridport defender Cox will be based with the Navy in Hampshire this summer.

Cox’s exit follows right-back Ed Bastick’s move to the Metropolitan Police – leaving Portland with a stark shortage of full-backs.

Speaking to Echosport, King applauded Cox’s progress this campaign.

He said: “He’s done well this season for us and he’s grown as the season’s gone on – he’s still only 18.

“He’s got good physique, he’s a good athlete and he’s got a good engine. As the season progressed, so did he.

“On a playing point of view, we’ll be disappointed to lose him because being the age he is, he would’ve had a long-term future at the club.

“These players have got to think of themselves and their careers – it’s something he wants to do and we wish him all the best in the Navy.”

King also hinted at the possibility of Cox playing for the Blues in the future.

“He’ll be welcome back,” King said. “I think he’s stationed at Portsmouth to start with, so there might have been some sort of (possibility) of being able to play, maybe.

“Until he got his feet under the table and sussed out what it was, we wouldn’t have known.”