Woolpit captain Andy Northcote wants to prove his side are still Suffolk’s best but knows it will not be a simple task ahead of the new season.
The Rectory Lane based outfit enjoyed a relatively positive maiden season in the East Anglian Premier League, achieving their aim of survival, finishing ninth and notably one place better off than established rivals Bury St Edmunds.
In an exciting start to the campaign, Woolpit host their local neighbours and the South African-born Italian international knows it will be difficult to once again finish ahead of Tom Huggins’ side.
“We would love to come out on top and be Suffolk’s best side again but we know the second season is often the hardest” he said. “Bury have recruited really well and we know it will be a tough game.
“It is great to start against your rivals and that really gives us an extra incentive.
“In all honestly we are fractionally weak in terms of numbers but that allows us to continue to blood some youngsters — that will be the tone for the season.”
That tone has been somewhat forced upon the club with a noticeable gap being left in the squad by the loss of a host of key players over the winter period.
Northcote has stepped into the captaincy void left by Mike Jones who drops a division to join Sudbury, while Ben Shepperson has returned to Mildenhall. Craig Eastlea and Craig Rutterford will also be missing for a large chunk of the beginning of the season with travel plans.
The new skipper conceded the departures will be a blow to his side but he has backed a crop of exciting youngsters including James Deeley and James Firth, as well as overseas professional James Godfrey to help compensate the losses.
“If you look at our squad from last year you can see it was built around those four so they will be a big loss,” he added.
“James Godfrey is a great addition for us but there are still three other gaps to fill.
“However there is no reason we should not be alright if five or six players step up which is definitely possible.
“As always, we will look to play some youngsters and really build a strong foundation for the future.
“That is a really positive and exciting thing.
“The young players here are not the end product yet but they have phenomenal potential and that needs to be encouraged.
“We are realistic, we know we won’t be able to compete with the top four sides in the league but we also know anyone below those sides should be targeted as wins, that is the target for us.
“If we can finish in mid-table then that would be sensational.”