EASTLEIGH have re-signed Joe Partington from Bristol Rovers – one of five new signings made by Ben Strevens.

Defender/midfielder Partington made 63 appearances in his two-and-a-half years with the League One club after two years with Eastleigh His return follows the arrivals of striker Scott Rendell, Jack Payne, Rob Atkinson and Sam Smart.

Partington made 90 appearances for Eastleigh after beginning his career as an AFC Bournemouth trainee.

The 29 year-old was the Spitfires’ player of the year in 2015/16, and is best remembered for giving Eastleigh the lead in their 3-2 FA Cup third-round replay at Bolton Wanderers that season.

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Joe Partington gave Eastleigh the lead at Bolton Wanderers in January 2016

Partington told eastleighfc.com: “I feel brilliant, I’ve been in contact with Strevs for years now, since being team mates.

“He’s done such an incredible job here in the time he’s been the manager.

“The opportunity came for me to get back involved and it was something I was really excited about, so I am looking forward to it.

“The club is moving in the right direction and I’m excited to play again in front of the supporters.

“I had such a good relationship with them last time even though I had to take the opportunity to move on.

It’s great to be back, I’m hoping I can recreate the relationship I had with them and hopefully we can have a successful season.”

Strevens said: “I’m delighted Joe has decided to come back to the club and that we have been able to complete this deal.

“He knows what the club is about and shares our ambitions for the future. He did so well for us in his last spell here at the club and he will be a fantastic addition to the squad both on the pitch with his performances and off it with the younger lads.

Strevens, who together with his management team has signed a new two-year deal of his own, has also signed midfielder Jack Payne from Ebbsfleet and central defender Rob Atkinson.

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Rob Atkinson (Photo by Chris Jarvis)

Atkinson played under Eastleigh assistant manager Jason Bristow at Basingstoke Town and last year made 15 appearances in the National League during a loan spell at Braintree.

Strevens continued: “Rob’s a lad that Jason knows very well. He worked with him at Basingstoke, left-sided centre half, very comfortable on the ball, drives out from the back.

“Jason actually sold him when he was Basingstoke manager to Fulham for £30k. He had a couple of years at Fulham and it’s a testament to the lad that he just wants to play men’s football.

“He had a taste of it really young and he just wants to get back to it. He doesn’t like under 21s’ or under 23s’ football.

"He went on loan to Braintree last season for the last 15 games and did really well. I had a lot of good reports about him, there was a little bit of other interest as well, so he was one I was keen to get done.

“He’ll be good for us next year. With the other centre halves we have already here it’s going to make him fight for his place, but he’s up for that challenge and he’s certainly shown he is good enough for this level.”

Atkinson said: “I’m delighted, I’ve been wanting to get it done and over the line for a while now.

“I enjoyed working with Jason at Basingstoke, he’s a good coach and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

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Sam Smart (Photo by Ian Longthorne)

Winger Sam Smart from Basingstoke Town is Eastleigh’s other new boy, replacing the outgoing Mark Yeates.

The former Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland trialist also played under Bristow at Basingstoke.

He has scored 22 goals in 52 appearances for Basingstoke over the last two seasons.

Strevens added:“Sam is a player who Jason and I know well, especially Jason from his time at Basingstoke.

“He is an exciting young player who has had a lot of interest from teams all over the country. I am hoping to help him to improve over the course of the next season and I am sure he will make a real impact in this team.”

Smart said: “It’s a great opportunity, this is everything I want to do and it’s full time and I just can’t wait to get started now. I feel ready for this challenge, when I first joined Basingstoke nobody knew who I was, I worked my way into the team and that’s what I’m going to do here. I can’t wait to get started.

“I always imagined playing here (The Silverlake) as a youngster as I used to play around the corner. I can’t wait to play in front of the crowd.”