EASTLEIGH have released defender Chris Dillon from their Skrill Conference South title-winning squad.

The Bournemouth-born former Christchurch centre-back was a surprise addition to Richard Hill’s playing personnel last summer having been introduced to the club by his former Priory teammate Michael Green on his return from playing in Australia.

He was a regular fixture for the first month of the season, covering for injuries to Eastleigh’s first-choice central defensive pairing of Chris Todd and Dean Beckwith.

But Dillon, who had also excelled for University of Mobile on a four-year scholarship in the USA, spent much of the following months on the bench before coming into the frame again as the club waded through a backlog of fixtures towards the end of their championship-winning campaign.

Confirming Dillon’s departure, Hill could not have spoken more glowingly about the 24-year-old. But, with the club moving into the Conference Premier elite next term, the boss believes he will do better getting regular games for another Conference South club than being a bit-part player for the Spitfires.

“I’ve not offered him anything,” Hill confirmed.

“Dills did great last season, slotting in, and he didn’t let us down playing at a level he’d never played at before.

“He’s a lovely lad, great in the dressing room, punctual, his appearance and everything is spot on – I can’t say enough good things about him.

“Having said all that, it sounds contradictory that I’m letting him go, but I just think he needs to play every week.

“He can play at Conference South level and needs to go and get games regularly now.

“Had we been the Eastleigh of old when all we had to do was stay in the Conference South and finish mid-table, Chris Dillon would have stayed and probably played every week next season.

“But, if I’d kept him, his opportunities would have been limited now that we’re stepping up a level and it’s no good for him to play for the first six weeks, then not play for a couple of months, come back for one game and so on.

“Even though he’s a fit and strong lad and he trains very well, the Conference Premier has a totally different physicality to what he’s played before.

“Dills needs to play regularly and a Conference South club out there could do a lot worse than to sign him.”