AFC Fylde favourite Luke Burke has rejoined the club on a two-year deal following his successful loan spell.
The 20-year-old made 37 appearances for the Coasters last season on loan from Wigan Athletic and manager Dave Challinor moved quickly to secure a permanent move for the defender after his release from the Championship outfit. Full-back Burke, who becomes the third new signing of the summer following the arrivals of Neill Byrne and Ryan Croasdale from Gateshead and Kidderminster Harriers respectively, could not hide his delight after ‘coming home’.
“I’m buzzing,” admitted Burke. “I was very pleased to hear that the club wanted me back. I had a great time here last season and I’m delighted to be back with the lads again.
“I was on the look out after leaving Wigan, but when Fylde came knocking it was an easy decision and a good idea to come back.
“I understand what is expected at the club and it’s a good place to be. It doesn’t feel like signing for a new club, it’s like coming home.
“The manager and the coaching staff really helped me develop my game last season.
“I think the defensive side of my game has improved and there is still more to come from me going forward.
“I was up and down the flank for Wigan when I played in the Championship and I think I can bring more of that back into my game.
“It was tough to leave Wigan because I had been there since I was 12. They were my first club but I was expecting to move on this summer.
Looking ahead to the season, Burke said: “I think next year will be tough considering the teams that have come up and come down into the National League. Plus others like Leyton Orient, who are a massive club, could challenge at the top. The other teams that were up there last year will be keen to have another go too.
“And then there is ourselves. No one expected us to do as well as we did last season and we don’t want to drop that standard.
“I expect us to be right up there again. We have enough quality in the squad and we will only get better and fitter and stronger as the summer goes on.
“Everyone was devastated after the play-off defeat at Boreham Wood and we don’t want that feeling again.”
The Coasters returned to pre-season training this week and Burke admits the hard work has already started.
Burke added: “It’s mainly fitness at this point and it’s been very, very hard. The lads have really been helping each other get through it.
“The runs are very difficult at this early stage but we support each other. Andy Bond got me through one of the last runs that I didn’t think I could do, so that shows the teamwork in the squad.”