Horsham YMCA have made a number of impressive signings as they head into the new season with promotion to the Ryman League the target.
As well as keeping the majority of last season’s squad, the Gorings Mead outfit have bolstered their number as they prepare an assault on the top three.
With only one side normally promoted from the SCFL Premier Division, it is fiercely-contested, but a Step 4 restructure could see as many as three teams promoted at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
YM have added previous league winners Joe Shelley, Kieron Pamment and Liam Humphreys to their squad along with goalkeeper Aaron Jeal and Ollie Gill, the latter of whom will miss the start of the season through injury.
Outgoing is striker Nick Sullivan, who is linking back up with his brother Dan at their hometown club Crawley Down Gatwick.
Alex Gathern meanwhile has left for Shoreham, with the centre-back also being local to the Ryman League new boys.
YM boss Peter Buckland said: “I think it will be a very tough league again. I do not know what state Three Bridges will be in having come down from Step 4.
“But I feel they will be up there along with all the usual suspects, Pagham and Haywards Heath, obviously. Then there are the local derbies with Loxwood and Broadbridge Heath that are always tough, lots are going to be a force.
“Obviously we are going for it, but I am not going to be blasé. We have given ourselves a chance with the squad we have put together even if injuries do build up, we have strength in depth now with good players.
“I’ve heard three are going up so that has to be our target. Couple that with an FA Cup run or other competitions and pick up a few pennies along the way, but the main priority has to be the league.”
Injuries proved a real problem in YM’s campaign last season and they have acted to avoid that this season.
Buckland added: “I knew at Christmas time last year our hopes were a dead duck. It was an accumulation of things and I can’t keep blaming it, but the injury situation was dreadful.
“It just creeps up on you. I thought, I’m not making the same mistake this year, I’d have a bigger squad and we have retained who we wanted and brought some new faces in.”
YM have had a solid pre-season under new coach Ben Godfrey, having had impressive wins over TD Shipley and Redhill, a good workout against Dorking Wanderers, before a superb 3-2 win over ex-landlords Horsham.
They now start their season at home to league rivals Three Bridges in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday.