Pip’s pride at taking the armband

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NEW Needham Market skipper Pip Boyland has revealed his pride at receiving the captain’s armband as he remains determined to lead the side to promotion glory.

The diminutive centre-half will fill the void left by Rhys Barber, who departed the Marketmen in the Summer to join Felixstowe and Walton United, in the upcoming Ryman League Division One North campaign which kicks off tomorrow with a trip to Ware (3pm) before the visit of Heybridge Swifts to Bloomfields on Tuesday (7.45pm).

The 26-year-old, who spent last season as vice-captain, was part of the squad who suffered play-off final heartache in a 1-0 defeat to Enfield Town last season, but he is now hoping that under his leadership the side can go one better and finally achieve promotion.

“It is a huge boost for me to be confirmed as the club’s new captain,” he said.

“I have wanted the role for a while and even though I have been stand in skipper a few times over the past couple of seasons it is great to be captain on a full-time basis.

“I know it will get the best out of me and hopefully I can inspire the other lads and carry us through to achieve our aim of promotion.

“I am really looking forward to the start of the new season, we have made some exciting new signings, with some of them bringing some higher league experience.

“That experience will be huge for us and hopefully it will stand us in good stead to make a title challenge.

“There are no easy games because this division is very tough but if we do things right and stick together, then I can’t see no reason why we can’t gain promotion.”

A busy close season has seen the manager Danny Laws chop and change his squad with the majority of defensive back bone being replaced.

The departures of veteran centre-half Gavin Johnson to Walsham-le-Willows, custodian Liam Jones and Barber could mean that Boyland is likely to be part of a new-look defensive line tomorrow, which could include recent arrivals Nathan Clarke from league rivals AFC Sudbury, Jemel Fox from Leiston and young stopper Alex Archer, who had a previous spell with Peterborough United.

Despite not having much time to build a playing relationship with his new team mates, Boyland believes the understanding between them is already in place to give Needham the strong foundation to build a promotion challenge.

“We haven’t had much time playing together but it is clear to see they are good players and they will give our back four a physical presence,” he added.

“We’ve all bonded really quickly and the character within the team is definitely there which should stand us in good stead.

“I think the defence is looking stronger than it has before, so if we can keep more clean sheets then we did last season we have a good chance of challenging at the right end of the table.”