A FORMER Premier League player has joined Evesham United’s coaching staff that features two familiar faces.

Simon Johnson played for Leeds United under managers David O’Leary, Terry Venables and Eddie Gray between 2002 and 2005.

The ex-midfielder also had spells at Sunderland, Blackpool, Doncaster Rovers and Hereford before playing in the non-league with Solihull Moors and Guiseley.

Having gained his coaching badges the 36-year-old has gone on to run his own Midlands-based football academy.

Evesham boss Carl Abbott has also appointed Shaun Cunnington and Paul Tomlinson as his assistants for the 2019-20 season.

Cunnington was in charge of Evesham, assisted by Tomlinson, before the duo resigned in 2013.

Abbott and Tomlinson have worked together for the past six years, forming a strong partnership at Hinckley AFC, Market Drayton Town and Quorn.

Tomlinson was also Cunnington’s right-hand man at Alvechurch, Willenhall Town and Evesham.

Cunnington boasts 500 Football League appearances for a number of clubs including Wrexham, Grimsby Town, West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. He also played for Kidderminster Harriers where he was caretaker manager in 2004.

Abbott felt the added experience of Cunnington would “come in handy” as they prepare for the new Southern League Division One campaign.

“Tommo has been with me for six years now and it was an opportunity to get Shaun back involved,” Abbott said.

“We both agreed that it would be good to get another voice.

“Sometimes we can get deadlocked by our thoughts so it will be nice to have someone that we trust to give a casting opinion.

“We have got a strong coaching team and myself, Paul and Shaun will chat things through.

“But it won’t get muddy.

“I am the manager and will make the decision that I feel will be right.”

Abbott has been busy putting together his squad with strikers Dave Reynolds and Jack Till, midfielder Lee Chilton and centre-back Brad Maslen-Jones making the move to United.

He has also managed to persuade defender Shayne Anson and midfield duo Nick Hancock and Adam Page to stay and forward pair Mark Magee and Sean Brain to return.

“The starting position for a new manager with existing players is challenging,” Abbott said.

“They can be very guarded and assume that the new manager does not want to work with them and wants to bring in his own crew.

“That could not be further from the truth.

“It has been a case of working through it and speaking to those players.

“I would like to stress that there has been equal energy going into retaining the key elements of last year’s team as there has been going into adding new players.

“Adding is the easy bit as you can sell an exciting new project to a player that is looking for exactly that.

“When there are lads that were there last season and felt the disappointment of Colly (axed boss Paul Collicutt) going it can be a harder sell.”