MANAGER Carl Heeley admits he had “no doubts” veteran striker Lee Hughes would extend his stay at Worcester City for next season.

Hughes, who turns 40 on Sunday, joined Danny Jackman, Kyle Perry, Connor Gater, Tyler Weir, Dean Waldron and Jamie Smith in agreeing a new deal at the Vanarama National League North outfit.

Last summer, the former West Bromwich Albion player was training with League One side Port Vale before a deal failed to materialise and City came calling in September.

Despite his advancing years, the 39-year-old’s ability to find the back of the net proved crucial to Worcester’s survival bid as he scored 18 goals in 34 appearances to steer them to safety.

Heeley admitted Hughes, who joined Coventry City for £5million in 2001, would not be able to play ever match, but when selected, he insisted the experienced frontman would make a big difference.

“You can look at his age, but the deal we have agreed with him works for both parties,” Heeley said.

“He kept himself in good shape (last season) and when he played his goal ratio was unbelievable.

“He is a player that we wanted to keep and we are delighted he has agreed to stay, but there were never any doubts as he said he was enjoying it at Worcester.”

Heeley added: “We have got to be selective as I know Lee isn’t going to play Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday every week of the season.

“But he plays enough games and is available enough times to score goals, so you would be foolish not to take him.

“The most important thing is that he wanted to stay at the club and when you have got players who want to stay at the club deals are easy to do.”

Hughes’ fellow former top flight forward Deon Burton called time on his career on the closing day of the season after netting nine goals.

But Heeley believes Perry, who arrived at Worcester from Hednesford Town in March, would provide his side with another scoring threat.

The 30-year-old struck once in eight appearances and Heeley said he was delighted to get the 6ft 4in marksman on board ahead of their move to Bromsgrove Sporting’s Victoria Ground.

“Me and (assistant manager) John Snape know Bromsgrove well and we know how to play on it, so Kyle will be vitally important to us,” Heeley said.

“You need goal-scorers and he is a proven goal-scorer, so we are pleased to keep him.”

Following “positive” talks on Monday with most of City’s squad, Heeley managed to get Hughes, Perry, Jackman, Gater, Waldron and Smith to commit their futures to the club.

“We are getting the core of the team together now,” he added.

“Connor and Danny are great footballers and great lads to have around the place, so we are delighted with everybody that we have retained so far.”