Chester are looking to add further numbers to their playing squad following the exit of senior duo Kingsley James and Ross Hannah.

The pair – who mutually agreed to have their contracts terminated earlier this week – had been occupying a significant chunk of the first-team budget available to joint-managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley, with interested clubs unwilling to match the wages paid by the Blues, while both players still had a year to run on their current deals.

However, after all parties agreed on a compensation package, Johnson confirmed Chester can now work towards bringing in more competition ahead of the 2018/19 National League North campaign, with defensive reinforcements and more firepower at the top of the wish list.

“We’ve got a squad of 17, but it looks like we’ve lost Matty Waters in the long-term, so we’re effectively working with 16,” Johnson explained, with left-sided full-back Waters ruled out of pre-season with a stress fracture to the shin.

“We’ve got good options in midfield, but we could do with strengthening throughout the squad. We’ve got a right-back, a left-back, two centre-backs, so these are areas we need more competition.

“There’s now some scope to do that with Kingsley and Ross off the wage bill, but there’s no rush in bringing in extra bodies. If we start the season with that current squad of 16, plus lads from the scholars, then we’re quite happy with that.

“Credit to the board for helping to get this done before the season starts. It shows we’re all on the same page and working towards the one goal.”

Johnson – who is preparing Chester for their season opener against Spennymoor Town on August 4 – wished to place on record the ‘first class’ conduct of both Hannah and James during what he admitted was a difficult situation for both the club and the duo.

“From minute one, we knew the situation and we immediately explained to both players the situation the club were in,” he added.

“It was never once about them as people or footballers, but it was about money and the football club comes first.

“They’ve both been good players for Chester and I wish them well in the future wherever they go next.

“I can’t say a bad word about either of them. They’ve been first class, a credit to themselves for the way they’ve come back, trained with the team, been willing to listen to our ideas and plans.”