DESPITE holding promising talks with Frankie Merrifield, Mark Bentley is cautious about whether the ex-AFC Wimbledon man will remain at Canvey Island.

Merrifield ended the Isthmian North campaign with eight goals in four appearances.

And, having seen an upturn in form after moving from his usual midfield position into the striker role, Bentley is expecting Merrifield to have numerous clubs chasing his services.

The Gulls’ boss said: “Frank had a change of position and I have spoken to him about staying with us.

“Everything seems to be quite positive already.

“He likes the club but I’m not stupid - he will probably have a bit of interest.

“It’s a matter of me persuading him and making sure I recruit well in the summer to ensure he wants to stay here.

“He finished the season with eight goals in four games and he was looking good.

“I have always said that I want to keep Frank and he has played every minute since I took over as manager.

“There are other players in the dressing room who are certainly in my plans, but it will certainly be a tough and busy summer.

“Frank might agree something with us now and then in two months’ time the vultures will be out.

“But I will be doing that to other clubs as I look to bring players in as well.”

Canvey finished the campaign in ninth place and were boosted by ending the season with three consecutive victories.

But Bentley, who replaced Danny Heale in the hotseat in October, was underwhelmed by his side’s placing.

“I don’t think the boys ever gave up,” added the former Southend United midfielder.

“I thanked them for their efforts but for whatever reason they haven’t been able to maintain their levels.

“Whether that is because of the level we’re at or there is an attitude problem I don’t know.

“But I do know that there are some good players.

“We were possibly papering over the cracks with the good run of form in January and we would go one goal down and we wouldn’t see a reaction.

“When the pressure was off us, the players showed us what they can do and it was a positive last few games.

“It’s hard to be really positive about the season because we finished nowhere near where I thought we would be.

“It was a positive way to finish the season but it was disappointing overall.”