Thursday 09th June 2005

Please credit article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk

Sittingbourne players are all on trial

SITTINGBOURNE manager Steve Lovell has confirmed he is giving every player a fresh start in the build up to their Southern League Division One East campaign, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Welshman has confirmed all of last season's squad will be returning to pre-season training and has been boosted with the return from injury of three of his players.

Left backs Joe Dowley and Dean Hill and right-sided midfielder Lee Browning will all be added to the squad next season with the possibility of three new signings.

"It will be mainly the same as last year," Lovell revealed in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk.  "The boys are coming back, there's no-one whose said they aren't coming back.

"We had injuries last year and that was the main reason for the squad being so depleted at the end.

"There are two or three players coming to the club but the squad was quite big (last season) when fit.  I don't think I need too much to add as the quality is there."

But Lovell has high hopes for the Bourne Park club and wants to mount a serious assault for honours after Christmas.

"At the start of the season everybody wants to aim for the top positions in the league and obviously there's only six teams that can finish in the play-off's and promotion.

"I'm no different to them and I will be disappointed if by Christmas we weren't in the position to challenge for the latter part of the season."

Lovell has arranged eight pre-season friendlies in a bid to get his team and tactics right in time for the start of their league campaign on Saturday 13th August.

"If you have a good start to the season it breeds confidence and that's why I've got so many pre-season games to work on systems," he revealed.

"If the one system is not working, I'll change it with the personnel we have with the club.

"I think all the players, again, are on trial.  It's a new start, a new season, and players (on trial) can show me that they are better than the one's we've got, or fitter than the ones that were in the side last year.

"I will judge players on their performances during the pre-season to make up my mind for what will be my squad for the start of the league season.

"It's a clean slate for everybody and to be fair to everybody I have to give everybody a chance."

Like most managers in Kent, Lovell is keeping the identities of potential new signings close to his chest - but fans will know who these trialists are during their eight game pre-season schedule.

"When the pre-season starts people will see what players we've got on trial.  It's up to them to perform and get themselves in the team."

Lovell admitted he is looking forward to the new season and is looking for a successful one to bring the fans back to watch the club - like they did during Lovell's first spell in charge of the Brickies when they were playing at the adjacent Central Park Stadium.

"It's a good challenge again and I will be working very hard to make sure the players are fit.

"I think that needs to be worked on and if they are fit they've got the ability to do well in the league," he said.

Lovell admits Kent rivals Chatham Town and Dartford will have successful season's and added: "There are a lot of good sides in Essex so it will be a tough league but I will be disappointed if we are not in there with a good shout.

"I think Sittingbourne has already been a big club in non-league circles from when I was here the first time.

"It will be great to get the supporters back and the only way to do that is by being successful."

Out of those eight pre-season friendlies, five of them are against lower league opposition and only three games are being played in front of their own fans at Bourne Park, against Lovell's former side Hastings United, Gillingham and tenants Maidstone United.

Tuesday 19 July  (a) Herne Bay
Thursday 21 July (a) Faversham Town
Saturday 23 July (H) Hastings United
Tuesday 26 July (a) Whitstable Town
Thursday 28 July (a) Ashford Town
Saturday 30 July (H) Gillingham
Tuesday 2 August (H) Maidstone United
Saturday 6 August (a) Erith & Belvedere