MANAGER Carl Heeley has vowed to continue in sole charge of Worcester City and prepare his side for an “even tougher” Vanarama National League North next season.

After more than five years in the hot-seat, Heeley decided to share his management duties with Matt Gardiner at the start of this season in a bid to “lighten the workload”.

But, with Gardiner now poised to join Kidderminster Harriers as head of coaching, Heeley has returned to the role he accepted in January 2010.

With coach John Snape stepping up as assistant, the 47-year-old led the team for their final two games as they finished the campaign in 17th place.

Although Heeley was recently appointed onto City’s board and has a busy full-time job away from the football club, he said he was keen to keep hold of the reins as they move to ground-share with Bromsgrove Sporting.

“It has been a tough few weeks but, that said, you always look at the positives and I like to say that I always enjoy it,” said Heeley, who played more than 500 games for Worcester and captained the team.

“I think if you are playing you can affect it a little bit more, so it is easier, but as a manager sometimes you expect everyone to have great performances and it doesn’t work like that. But I still keep smiling.

“I will have a few weeks off, recharge the batteries and then get back to it, preparing for next season.

“I brought Matt into the frame to give him an opportunity and to help lighten the workload.

“But things happen and Matt has made no secret of the fact he has a desire to go full-time and he goes with our best wishes.

“I thank him for everything he has done for me and the football club.

“But we move on and I will continue in sole charge and we will look to adapt the coaching staff accordingly.”

City ended the season just two points ahead of third-from-bottom Lowestoft Town, who were relegated along with Hednesford Town and Corby Town.

Darlington 1883 and Salford City have been promoted from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, while demoted Halifax Town, Altrincham and Kidderminster will join Worcester in National North.

Heeley said he would be working hard to strengthen his playing squad for the 2016-17 campaign.

“The division is going to get even tougher and we need everybody pulling in the right direction,” he said.

“Our supporters have been magnificent as they continued to travel to Kidderminster from Worcester and I am sure they will do the same at Bromsgrove, so they are going to be a big help.

“We want to be competitive and try to improve year-on-year.

“But it gets ever difficult in a really competitive league with the sides that keep coming up and it is going to be no exception with Darlington and Salford moving into the division next year.”