ROB Small feels everyone associated with Bowers & Pitsea should be proud after seeing two of the club’s most exciting youngsters secure moves abroad.

Luke Hirst and Alex Balisani were integral members of the under-23 squad which won the title last term.

But Hirst has now moved onto Swedish outfit IFK Mora on a three-month placement, while Balisani has signed a two-year professional contract with Romanian side CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu.

And Bowers’ first team boss Small believes under-23s chief John Guyton deserves plenty of credit for helping Bowers’ up-and-coming stars to develop.

“The club, as a whole, should be really proud to see Luke and Alex securing such fantastic moves,” said Small.

“When we introduced development football, it was a bit of a lottery but John deserves a lot of credit for the work he has done.

“He has brought new and exciting talent to the club.

“The fact that we give youngsters a chance in the first team - and there is evidence of that - helps John.

“It inspires the 16 and 18-year-olds in the local area to get involved at Bowers because they see there is the opportunity to progress into the first team.”

Bowers’ first team are enjoying their first ever campaign in the Isthmian Premier League.

And, following a productive three-month spell, Bowers now find themselves 16 points clear of the bottom two.

As a result, Bowers have less pressure on their shoulders heading into the final nine fixtures of term.

Small has called on his players to produce the goods and prove they deserve to be in his plans as Bowers look to progress further.

“If you go back three months, things were looking a bit precarious,” added Small.

“To be sitting where we are now shows how well the players have done in a short space of time.

“We want to keep building on our current position and the foundations are there.

“The players are showing what we try to instil.

“I want them to continue demonstrating the right things and prove they deserve to be at the table next season.

“We want to improve every season and, to do that, we need the right characters.”