FORMER Colchester United favourite Karl Duguid is back in the Heybridge Swifts hotseat in a joint-management capacity with his successor Stuart Nethercott.

Duguid quit Swifts in late-April, citing “the pressures of modern football in a 26-year career” and “wanting to spend more time with my young family”.

Now the 42-year-old is back to salvage all the hard work he put into the Swifts team as only four players remain from last season and Swifts have slumped to second bottom in the Isthmian North.

Duguid, who played 416 games for the U’s and scored 45 goals, said: “I have enjoyed having time off with my family and I am now refreshed and raring to go.

“I have some unfinished business as Stuart and I took the Swifts to the brink of the play-offs for the second season in a row before the virus hit.

“I am back in training with the lads on Tuesday night and the first challenge is Saturday’s FA Trophy tie at Northwood.”

The former Colchester United skipper and legend was manager for the aborted 2019-20 season, taking over from former West Ham favourite Julian Dicks when he went to West Bromwich Albion to be Slavan Bilic’s assistant.

Swifts chairman Gary White said: “Karl resigned from the role in April after the season was ended and annulled, prematurely in his opinion.

“That was during the lockdown period and this enabled Karl to have his first real break from the game in a 26-year career, allowing him to spend time with his young family for an extended period.

“The break has allowed him to recharge his batteries and Karl returns ‘refreshed and raring to go’, feeling he has ‘unfinished business’, given Swifts were in a play off position when the lockdown took effect.”

White has kept a tight rein on the club’s finances, refusing to let Swifts go into the red for the good of the club and the dire effects of the Covid-19 crisis on all football clubs.

White adds: “Karl returns at a difficult time for the club, with budget restrictions seeing many of last season’s squad departing, mainly for Canvey Island, and the new-look squad struggling for goals, apart from last Tuesday's 5-0 trouncing of Hullbridge Sports.

“Saturday’s trip to Soham Town Rangers saw Swifts lose 1-0 in yet another game they should have got at least a point from.

“Karl is keen to renew his association with the management team of Stuart Nethercott and Michael Pulford to put that right and start getting points on the board once more."

Swifts made a quickfire decision in May to promote former Spurs and Millwall defender Nethercott to be Duguid’s successor in the style of the great Liverpool teams of the the past.

Nethercott, 47, with previous managerial experience at Maldon Town and Ware, arrived at Swifts in the summer of 2019 after being part of the successful management team at Coggeshall Town who won the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties title and promotion to the Isthmian League.

Swifts chairman White, who received a huge inbox of applications even though the vacancy was not advertised, said: “Our committee moved quickly to appoint Karl’s successor.

“Committee members took the view the club has a settled structure of good quality coaches and support staff — and that team was likely to be broken up if a new man was brought in.

“We felt the club needed stability in terms of its structure in order to deliver an overall strategy and key to that is continuity.

“In much the same way as the old Liverpool ‘boot room’ philosophy of the 1970s and 1980s that saw at least four top class managers emerge, we felt that is a good strategy.”

So Duguid’s return is in keeping with the philosophy of continuity at Swifts.

When Jody Brown quit as manager two years ago, his assistant Duguid stepped up to the plate as assistant to Dicks.

Duguid moved up when Dicks departed and now he has returned to renew his partnership with Nethercott to revive Swifts’ fortunes.