Adam Hinshelwood feels the pressure will be on other clubs more than Worthing in the coming season – but wants to see signs of progress.
After taking over when Worthing were bottom of the Bostik League Premier Division and with just one point from nine games last season, Hinshelwood led the club to a 16th-placed finish and expectations are now higher heading into the 2018/19 campaign.
Worthing have openly said they want to be a National League club but Hinshelwood has warned there will be a number of strong teams this season and first of all wants to build on last year.
James Crane and Ollie Pearce (both Bognor), Will Miles (Burgess Hill) and Callum Kealy (Met Police) have all joined this summer and Hinshelwood has retained the majority of last season’s squad.
Three members of that squad, Reece Meekums, Lucas Covolan and Aarran Racine, are all trialling at higher-league clubs over the next few days, while Danny Barker – who also hopes to move up the football ladder – is on holiday.
Hinshelwood would welcome all four back if no other moves materialised and also hopes to add a goalkeeper from a professional club on a six-month loan for the new season.
Worthing begin their pre-season friendlies at home to South Park this weekend and looking ahead to the new campaign, Hinshelwood said: “I’m quite relaxed about it. There’s going to be a number of teams that are going to be looking to do the same thing and some have a lot bigger budget than us. We’ve got to be realistic. Pete (Stone, chairman) has told the fans the budget has stayed the same as last year, so although we’ve been very lucky in what we’ve recruited within that budget, there is no pressure from the board.
“We’ll put the pressure on ourselves in-house and I expect high expectations from ourselves but looking at it, there’s going to be lots of clubs fighting for that one automatic promotion spot.
“There’s a lot of Sussex teams and if you finish the top Sussex team in the league this season, you’d have done very well. All of the Sussex teams look strong, Dorking look strong as well and that’s not even taking in to account the ones that finished in the play-offs last year.
“It’s going to be really tough. We’re not setting ourselves any ridiculous expectations.
“The best the club has finished in this division for a long time is 14th.
“Our first target will be to finish above that. Anything else will be a bonus.”
Hinshelwood added he felt pressure would be on other clubs more than Worthing: “I honestly do think that.
“We did okay last season but we don’t want to be a club who celebrates finishing 16th.
“We’ve got to be building on that. We’re doing things right, we’re getting the right foundations in place so in the future we can be a club who does compete and will look to get into National South, but we’re trying to do things the correct way.
“We’re building the foundations first and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen straight away. Things are going really well, the team Pete has got together off the pitch is excellent and we’re getting there with our squad on the pitch.
“I’m really happy we’ll be able to compete in every game this season and that will be the ultimate first target.”
Worthing host South Park in their first friendly on Sunday (2pm) and then entertain Worthing United on Tuesday for the Malcolm Gamlen Trophy (7.45pm).