Hawke's Bay United soccer coach Brett Angell has virtually lost his entire squad from last season but you won't catch him sitting around twiddling his thumbs or fretting.

"I've lost even the nucleus of the group so I'm replacing a hell of lot of previous players," says Angell who has gone back to the drawing board with just four members of the 2016-17 ISPS Handa Premiership squad.

"It's been a lot more problematic from the current situation to the previous one ... but I didn't expect to fill quite as many places," he says, mindful his player-management role has become a little more labour intensive than envisaged.

The Englishman, in his fourth season with the Thirsty Whale-sponsored Hawke's Bay franchise, has secured four key signings on which to rebuild a team template to try to maintain their usual high standards of making the playoffs every summer.


Attacking midfielder Gavin Hoy comes into his equation after Angell scouted the American's talent during the player's campaign for Team Taranaki in the Lotto Central League over winter.

"I think if given time and space, Gavin can create opportunities," says Angell before Bay United kick off at 4.35pm against Wellington Phoenix Reserves at Bluewater Stadium, Napier, on Monday, October 23.

They play Hamilton Wanderers away at 2pm on Sunday, October 29, before hosting champions Team Wellington at Park Island on Sunday, November 5, from 1pm.

New Zealander Graham Craven, a Central League defender with Palmerston North Marist last winter, English midfielder Adam Thurston, and Wesley Cain, a Canadian winger, have been awarded portfolios to rewrite and modify the Bay United constitution, if not reinvent it.

But the concussion comes from England-born striker Sam Mason-Smith who is in the doldrums for the franchise.

"Obviously Sam's situation has come about from the previous group so he may or may not be available to us," says Angell of Mason-Smith, the Wairarapa United captain, who is on a one-month trial in the hope of securing a professional contract in South Africa.

The 49-year-old former English Premier League centre forward puts that in the "it-is-what-it-is" basket and wishes last season's prolific goalscorer all the best because part of Bay United's business is to groom players on the national stage to an extent whereby they become equally viable on the international market.

"Sam's shown that if he's given the opportunity he's more than capable of taking it so we are letting him go with a heavy heart ... for the opportunity to play fulltime professional football."

Ask him if he has a like-for-like striker bracketed for Mason-Smith and Angell laughs before reiterating it's an opportune time for someone to become the mannequin of focal point on the shop-front window.

If successful Mason-Smith will be the third franchise player in as many seasons to turn professional from Bay United stable.He will follow in the footsteps of Wellington Phoenix striker Hamish Watson and midfielder/defender Khair Jones (Melaka, Malaysia Super League).

Craven will ideally be a shoo-in for last season's captain and centreback Finlay Milne, also of Palmerston North, who has embarked on his big OE.

"Hopefully with more players based around him I'm hoping he settles in quickly and becomes a mainstay for us," he says of Craven who will play alongside veteran Bill Robertson who captained the premiership-winning and O-League campaigners Team Wellington.

He rates Thurston, coming via a club in South Adelaide, Australia, as having "excellent pedigree".

The 22-year-old, formerly with the Manchester United academy from the age of 8 to 16, offers Angell a solid technical foundation in the engine room.

Cain, a former Vancouver Whitecaps Academy and Canada age-group representative, is someone who has "decent dynamics" to inject impetus with some pace.

Angell anticipates that the Canadian, who arrived in the country not long ago, will carve a niche to become a cog in the wheel for collective cohesiveness.

While the Bay United team which will be officially launched at a function in Napier tonight, have lost their core and continuity in the same personnel, they will keep their oppositions guessing as unknown quantities.