HALSTEAD Town manager says he is going to miss working with Kane Gilbert after the pacey winger left the Humbugs to join Bostik League division north side Canvey Island.

However, the Halstead boss said he was delighted to see him stepping up as it was a progression that the player had earned after developing through the club's youth and reserve sides and into the first team over the last three years.

"Personally, I'm going to miss him massively because I have worked with Kane for about four years," said McLean.

"As a manager, there are certain players who become projects for you to work with and he was definitely one of them.

"He came into my group when he was just 15 and right from the start you could see that he had something special.

"On the ball, you just let him go, but technically and off the ball as well with his positional play, he is such a good player

"I just love his ability to learn.

"We tested him last year, but he hasn't half come on.

"He has been consistently good this year and that's been the main thing for me.

"I'll miss him hugely and there'll always be a place for him back here if he wants it.

"But it was an opportunity that he wanted to take as it was too good to miss.

"I think if it had been up just one step then he wouldn't have gone because he loves Halstead."

McLean said the progression of Gilbert highlighted the good work being done at the club and he is now challenging other members of his squad to step up after their team-mate's departure.

The Humbugs boss added: "It shows we are all doing something right as a club at Halstead and I'm proud of Kane.

"If we are bringing players through so they are catching the eye of clubs in the Bostik League then we are doing something right.

"Players move on, that is football, and we need to deal with that now.

"Fortunately we have players who can come through to replace him, but who wouldn't miss a player like Kane; he is such a positive boy to have around and I wish him nothing but the best.

"I'm sure he will do brilliantly in the Bostik League."