Mark Morsley is prepared to give Danny Smith the chance to impress when Needham Market make their Ryman League Premier Division bow.
The Marketmen start their first-ever season at step three this weekend with the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Sam Newson away on holiday.
Teenage striker Smith, a summer signing from lower-league Framlingham Town, has been selected in Needham’s squad for their opening game with Burgess Hill Town at Bloomfields tomorrow (3pm).
And manager Morsley admits the talented youngster, who scored 26 goals for Framlingham last season, could be in line to make his debut for the Marketmen.
“Sam is away on Saturday so he’ll be in the squad and could play a part,” the Needham boss said. “If things are going wrong we may bring him off the bench.
“In the game you look to bring someone on who can get you a goal, and he has the ability do that.
“His goal-scoring record at youth level and in local football in the SIL (Suffolk and Ipswich League) with Framlingham was phenomenal last season.
“Some pro clubs were looking at him, but the level he was playing at it was maybe too big a jump for him to take.
“He’s jumped five steps to play for us and I like what he’s got. We may have to be a little patient with him, but he’s definitely got a bright future.”
It has been mostly a quiet summer for the Division One North champions, with ex-Colchester United stalwart Karl Duguid and Bury Town winger Jordan Patrick the only other two new signings.
Duguid takes over as player-coach from the departing Lee Norfolk, while Ian Westlake (retired), Ryan Crisp (Dereham Town) and Rhys Henry (Maldon and Tiptree) have also left the club along with Micheal Brothers (Brantham Athletic).
Apart from Newson’s absence, Needham will assess the fitness of midfielder Keiran Morphew (hamstring) before their opening day clash with the Division One South champions.
“I’m quite excited about the new challenge for the football club,” said Morsley, who takes his side to Billericay Town on Tuesday night (7.45pm).
“It’s a new chapter on the journey that we’re going on here. We realise we’ve got a tough first game.Bearing in mind how easily Burgess Hill won their league, it’s one of the toughest games we could have started with.
“There’s been no major overhaul of the squad, we’ve tinkered a little bit with a few coming in and a few going out.
“We’re looking for a good start and to establish ourselves as a Premier Division team.”
n Needham fixtures: page 133