Worthing Football Club joint bosses Jon Meeney and Gary Elphick will be looking to build on the success of last season when the new campaign gets under way on Saturday.
In their first season as joint managers last year, Meeney and Elphick guided Rebels to promotion through the Ryman League South Division play-offs and also reached the final of the Sussex Senior Cup.
Looking ahead to the challenge of the Ryman League Premier Division, Elphick wants the team to aim for mid-table and then see where they are placed heading into the closing stages of the season.
He said: “I’ve been delighted with how pre-season has gone, the only blemish was Ben Pope getting injured.
“We’ll be looking to carry our pre-season form into the start of the season now.
“We want to be competitive as we’re in a division with some big games in non-league football. Bognor and Havant are teams who have been in Conference South and then you’ve got teams like Dulwich Hamlet as well.
“We’ll aim for mid-table, just take things step by step and see where that takes us.”
Meeney admits a win early in the season will help build momentum in a new division and said: “We want to be competitive and set a solid foundation to build on over the course of the season.
“The sooner the first win comes, the better as it will help to build momentum and confidence. We want to kick on and keep progressing this season.”
Rebels signed Brandon Joseph-Buadi on Tuesday evening. The 18-year-old was released by Portsmouth in the summer, after spending the end of last season on loan at Bognor. Meeney said: “He’s coming back from a slight injury but came through training on Tuesday. He’s part of the Worthing group now and we’ll slowly build him up.
“He’s a quick, mobile forward who can also play out wide and he’ll aid us in the offensive third.”
Reis Stanislaus, Kane Wills and Sam Rents are the other new additions to the squad, while Lloyd Dawes was the only summer departure and Meeney said: “I’m delighted with the squad. Recruitment was done early, which allowed us to have good time on the training pitch and in friendlies with the players.”
The only set-back in pre-season was Pope’s injury and Rebels fear the young striker could miss the season after fracturing and breaking an ankle in the friendly with Watford under-21s.
Meeney said: “Everyone is gutted with Ben’s injury and it’s a terrible shame for him. We’ve got to regroup and support Ben in the short and medium term now.”
Rebels completed their pre-season programme with a 5-1 win at home to Horsham on Saturday. Harvey Sparks, with two, Newton, Brannon O’Neill and Stanislaus got the goals.
Rebels begin the season at Hendon on Saturday, before they host Met Police on Tuesday.
Elphick said: “I know a few of the Hendon team and it will be a tough game – a bit like welcome to the Ryman Premier for us. But we go there with confidence and with a full squad available, apart from Ben.”
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