FALMOUTH Town manager Andrew Westgarth admits that he “half expected” defender James Ward to leave the club again this summer.

The much-coveted centre-back’s second departure from Bickland Park in as many summers was confirmed on Sunday by his new club Plymouth Parkway.

Ward ended a three-and-a-half-year spell at Town last summer in favour of a move to Truro City, before returning to Town in November last year.

He is one of several new faces at Bolitho Park this summer, with the ambitious Western Football League club's other signings including Ward’s former Truro team-mate Harrison Davis, Taunton Town captain Matt Wright and prolific Saltash United striker Ryan Richards.

READ MORE: Falmouth Town defender joins Western League club

Westgarth, who revealed that Truro were also interested in bringing the defender back to Treyew Road, was philosophical about Ward’s departure, admitting that he was always going to struggle to keep a player of his quality.

He said: “I half expected him to be leaving anyway so in a weird way it doesn’t feel as big a blow as the season before.

“We’re a bit more covered this year whereas last year it sort of came out of the blue and left us a little bit light, whereas now I’d like to think we’re a bit more prepared for it.”

He added: “I’d say our strength is togetherness and team spirit, and sometimes when you’ve got a player of Wardy’s quality that brings itself a lot of attention. He’s getting spoken about all of the time and every transfer window he’s always getting looked at.

“Whether he stayed this year I’d have exactly the same problems going through the season. People of that quality are always going to attract attention from higher clubs.

“Obviously since going to Truro his profile has gone up a little bit now, so I think we’d have been very lucky to keep him anyway.”

Ward was a big hit during his time at Falmouth, making 137 appearances and scoring 16 goals across his two spells, with the most famous being the goal that clinched Town’s first Cornwall Senior Cup crown in 22 years back in 2019.

“I can’t fault Wardy for what he’s given Falmouth Town,” Westgarth said. “That Senior Cup goal was a special moment for himself and the club. He goes with my full blessing and I wish him all the best."