Bognor boss Jack Pearce said he was sorry to lose influential midfielder Dan Beck - but insisted it was the player's circumstances that had made it happen.
Beck, who has played more than 400 times for the Rocks in several spells at Nyewood Lane, has moved to Burgess Hill - weeks after he had indicated he was happy to have another season with Bognor.
It has dismayed Rocks fans, who have recently seen James Crane and Ollie Pearce join Worthing and other fan favourites leave the club.
Pearce told is this afternoon: "Dan told me at the end of last season he wanted to carry on playing for us. But he was not around for the start of our pre-season training and he range me last week to say his circumstances had changed and he needed to be with a club that didn't involve so much travelling for him.
"Burgess Hill is much closer for him and a move there suited him at this time.
"I'm ever so sorry to see him go but it's no slight on Bognor. He's been brilliant for us over many years - one of the best players we have ever had at the club.
"Dan was one of those we were expecting to stay but he is leaving because of personal circumstances, not because of a dislike for Bognor or Jack Pearce."
Pearce admitted he was concerned at the current size of the squad - which consists of nine of last season's team, one new signing (ex-Worthing left-sided utility man Harvey Sparks) and a sprinkling of youngsters.
"Of course I'm a bit concerned but it's never been any different here. There are not loads of Bognor-based players playing elsewhere in the country. I'd be more concerned if that were the case.
"We will get on with putting a squad together. I will face up to it and we'll see where we are when we play our first league game on August 11."
A number of youngsters will feature in the opening friendly - against Brighton under-23s tonight - with Corey Heath and Chad Field not being risked as they complete their comebacks from knee and ankle injuries sustained last season, hopefully in time to be fully fit for the start of the season.
Pearce said he did not anticipate having a too-young starting XI when the season started.
"We are still working on forwards. I could go out and sign step four or five players but I want step two or three players. We want players who will enalbe us to compete at the top end of the division we're going into."
Kick-off tonight is at 7.45pm. We'll have a report on this website tonight and reaction in the Observer on Thursday.