Squad continuity can be the key to Needham Market achieving their promotion goal this season, according to their manager Mark Morsley.
After a raft of new faces piled through the door at Bloomfields 12 months ago, this summer has only seen mercurial forward Danny Cunningham (Bury Town) and teenage midfielder James Crissell (AFC Sudbury) arrive.
And Morsley believes the lack of changes, keeping hold of the majority of last season’s side, including former professionals Kem Izzet and Ian Westlake, will give them an advantage over their promotion rivals in Ryman League Division One North.
Ahead of last season’s play-off semi-finalists hosting newly-promoted Great Wakering Rovers tomorrow (3pm), the Needham chief said: “Every team’s aim is to win the league but last season our ultimate aim was the play-offs and this season is about going up.
“As a football club we have got to start moving forward.
“Last season was about building a brand new team, I bought in 17 players or whatever it was and the bulk of the senior squad here this year is the team from last year.
“We have only brought in Danny Cunningham as an additional senior player, we have obviously promoted Brendan Heath who had another solid game against Hadleigh and we have brought the lad James Crissell in who came from an academy (AFC Sudbury).
“I think the familiarity with the squad will be massive for us and it was always my aim.”
Needham’s pre-season concluded with a comfortable 3-0 win at reigning Thurlow Nunn League champions Hadleigh United on Saturday to win the Hadleigh Charity Cup.
Sam Newson’s 19th minute opener was added to in a dominant second half by Luke Ingram and newboy Crissell, with six 17-year-olds ending the game.
Cunningham has been brought in to add more firepower and creativity to the forward line, with a lack of goals highlighted as holding them back last season.
Morsley, who believes the flexibility of his players between 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 formations will be a big benefit, added: “I think we’re in a good place. I probably would like one more player in my squad if I’m honest, but I’m not going to panic and when the right player comes along we will try and sign him.”
With last season’s captain Sheridan Driver having been released along with Ryan Charles, Luke Hammond and Russell Malton, former Colchester United captain Izzet will lead the side this season with Kieron Morphew and Ollie Fenn as his joint vice-captains.
Morsley, whose side travel to last season’s strugglers Ware on Tuesday (7.45pm), believes AFC Sudbury, Thurrock, Harlow Town and relegated Cray Wanderers will be their main challengers for top spot.