PORTLAND United have announced a hat-trick of striker signings with Troy Walbridge, Greg Borthwick and Joel Hewitt signing for the 2022/23 Wessex League Premier Division season.

Walbridge signs for his first full season with the Blues after joining the islanders part-way through the previous campaign from fellow Dorset side Bridport.

Walbridge, who is also a part of the Weymouth Under-23s setup, went on to score five goals in 24 appearances for his new side.

Portland boss Franklyn Clarke believes there is more to come from the industrious centre-forward, though.

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He told Echosport: “He’s got real potential, Troy. He’s come on a lot since he joined us but he struggled with injuries at times and getting that consistency.

“For a young lad, he’s a real good size and is very direct. He’s a good finisher, he’s a really strong lad with pace.

“When he gets in front of goal he’s calm. He’s got a little bit of everything so I’m looking forward to watching him grow and develop even more next season. “He’ll be really good for us.”

Meanwhile, Borthwick enjoyed an excellent season for the Blues, scoring eight times in 34 appearances – including coming off the bench 15 times.

Dorset Echo: Greg Borthwick celebrates after scoring one of his eight goals for Portland last season Picture: IAN MIDDLEBROOKGreg Borthwick celebrates after scoring one of his eight goals for Portland last season Picture: IAN MIDDLEBROOK

His efforts nestled him joint-fourth on the Blues’ scoring charts for the season but Clarke believes his relative experience amongst a youthful Portland squad is invaluable.

He said: “Greg’s a good lad, a good age and he’s good around the group with the younger lads.

“On the pitch, he’s a bit different to the other strikers we’ve got. He’s very physical and really imposes himself on the opposition.

“At this level of football in general, you need players like that. He’s a real handful to defend against.

“Some of his goals of have come purely from being too physically strong and aggressive in a good way.

“We know what Greg brings. He really refined his game and started playing to his strengths rather than trying to do a bit of everything.

“I spoken to him and I know he’s very confident going into next season. He’s already set his own targets, so I’m very excited to see what Greg brings.”

Finally, Hewitt comes back for another season after netting nine goals in 31 appearances for the Blues in 2021/22, finishing third in the club’s goalscoring charts.

Dorset Echo: Joel Hewitt scored nine goals for Portland last season Picture: IAN MIDDLEBROOKJoel Hewitt scored nine goals for Portland last season Picture: IAN MIDDLEBROOK

Clarke challenged the striker, who rose through the ranks at Dorchester Town, to develop more consistency in his game.

He said: “I brought Joel straight across from the 23s at Dorchester when I first got the Portland job.

“I’ve always told him that he’s got the ability to play a lot higher than our level.

“Again, he’s another young lad and it’s just about having consistency. He showed glimpses last season and scored a couple of hat-tricks.

“Joel really does have the potential to do that on a more regular basis. For Joel, it’s trying to stay fit and add that consistency to his game.

“In terms of ability and talent, he certainly does have that. He’s a real footballer, loves having the ball at his feet.

“He suits being in a side that likes to keep the ball. He can come and show feet, run in behind and he’s a real goalscorer.

“If the rest of the team create the chances for him, he’s proved that he will put them away.

“Again, another forward who we’re really looking forward to watching next season. I don’t think Portland fans have seen the best of Joel Hewitt at the moment.”