Shaun's relishing new Spitfires job

By Wendy Gee 

Shaun Wilkinson
IF experience and determination were two of the qualities needed to land the Eastleigh No post, it's no wonder Shaun Wilkinson got the job.

The 30-year-old former Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder knows the Conference South like the back of his hand having won it with Weymouth and made the play-offs with Havant & Waterlooville.

And the very fact that he orginally joined Eastleigh as player last month shows he does not easily wilt in the face of adversity.

"I broke my leg two years ago with Havant and it was such a bad injury that people said I would never play again, but I've got back into it and I'm not retiring just yet," said the Spitfires' new player-coach.

"I came to Eastleigh just to help out, but things happen very quickly in football and now I find myself in a position I'm really enjoying. It's nice to be around a good, honest club.

"I need a few more games to get my match fitness back and I will play for Eastleigh when needed. Hopefully that won't be too often if the team does well."

Wilkinson, who hails from Portsmouth, first encountered Eastleigh boss Ian Baird as a youngster at Brighton, where he went on to make over 20 first-team appearances.

"When I signed my first pro contract, Micky Adams brought me in and said I was going to need an agent and that agent was Bairdy," he recalled. "I had a lot of managers at Brighton - Micky, Steve Coppell, Brian Horton, Peter Taylor, Mark McGhee, Martin Hinshelwood. We must have had a different one every year!"

Wilkinson was twice loaned by Brighton to Havant before signing a contract for the Hawks in November 2003. 

After just four appearances he followed departing manager Mick Jenkins to Weymouth in January 2004. He returned to Havant on a month's loan later that year before rejoining the Terras and becoming part of the team Garry Hill led into the Conference National.

Wilkinson yo-yoed back along the south coast following Weymouth's financial collapse in January 2007 and signed a new contract with Havant, where his no-nonsense midfielder displays earned him the nickname Sergeant Wilko.

But a serious injury sustained at Bishops Stortford in October 2009 ruled him out of action for the rest of the season and he was released in May this year in less than amicable circumstances.

"I was club captain of Havant and they even offered me a job on the coaching staff, but then I was dropped with no full reasons given. I fell out with the manager," he said.

A few years down the line Wilkinson might consider becoming a manager himself but, for now, he is happy working alongside former Saints and Leeds striker Baird.

"I'm cutting my teeth," he said. "Bairdy's a good manager and someone I can learn off. I know his style of management and the way he works."

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