The loss of striker Shaun Tuton to one of their league rivals will be a ‘blow’ for Chester, according to joint manager Anthony Johnson.

The 26-year-old former Barnsley forward joined the Blues on non-contract terms in the summer following a successful trial with the club.

He featured in both of Chester’s opening two National League North fixtures against Spennymoor and Curzon Ashton, but did not travel with the squad for the 8-1 hammering at Blyth Spartans.

And Tuton now looks set to make the switch to Spennymoor after they put seven days notice in last week.

Blues bosses Johnson and Bernard Morley were left disappointed after the player declined contractual terms with the Blues in favour of a move to the north east.

Johnson said: “I’m really disappointed with the Shaun Tuton scenario. We found out about 18 hours before the Blyth game that he was leaving.

“When he came here we shook hands with an agreement that he’d be with us until at least the end of August, but it seems as though the first offer he’s had from another club he’s taken. We hadn’t had any notice of Spennymoor, we just got a call off his agent saying he was signing for them. He was on a non-contract deal here initially due to budget restrictions, but he had agreed to stay with us for the month of August at least.

“After we heard from Spennymoor we went to the board and explained the situation that they had come in for him and the board said ‘right okay let’s make him an offer’, but we got blown out of the water. I think Shaun was bit disappointed that he wasn’t offered the contact to start with and obviously that’s bitten us on the backside a little bit.

“It is a tough one because nobody else was really willing to take a chance on him during the summer.

“Obviously, that’s the risk you run when you’ve got a player on non-contract terms, but it still feels like a blow to lose him so early in the season, but we’re not going to lose too much sleep over this.”

Tuton’s imminent departure limits Chester’s options in attack with George Green still sidelined with injury and registration issues delaying Deane Smalley’s first start.

On-loan duo Anthony Dudley and Dan Mooney are both available, but the Blues managers remain keen to recruit a new centre forward.

Johnson has played down the club’s rumoured interest in Southport striker Liam Martin, who was keen on a move to Chester according to his boss Liam Watson.

“There was contact from the player” added Johnson. “There were a few messages he sent asking if he could come in and train with us, but the lad is still making his comeback from serious injury.

“He picked up an ACL injury six months ago and needed surgery.”

“So he’s desperate to get back to playing football again and approached us. I’ve spoken with the Southport manager and he knows the situation, but I don’t think either of us ready to risk him returning to playing just yet and aggravating his injury.

“He wants to prove his fitness and is yet to get any minutes under his belt. I understand that, but we’re loath to take that risk and think it’s still a bit too soon for him.

“With Shaun leaving we are looking to replace him with a forward of similar quality. There are a couple of players we’ve identified, who can maybe inject a bit more pace and power to our attacking play.

“We have to see what’s out there and whether it’s something we can get over the line relatively soon.”