Di Paola on Horsham's pre-season schedule and Premier Division mileage

Football, Bostik League South  Division: Horsham v Hythe. Dominic Di Paola . Pic Stephen Goodger. DSC_3052
Football, Bostik League South Division: Horsham v Hythe. Dominic Di Paola . Pic Stephen Goodger. DSC_3052

Dominic Di Paola believes Horsham have set themselves a testing set of pre-season fixtures to stand them in good stead for stepping up into the Bostik League Premier Division.

The Hornets' manager has also dispelled any chance of losing players due to perceived extra commitment levels due to traveling next season.

The South East Division play-off winners return to the league's top flight for the first time in seven years at the end of the summer.

And with a step-up in division, comes the expectation of extra travel times for their Saturday and midweek away fixtures - something that can effect players' ability to commit due to their work circumstances.

But Di Paola has been on Google Maps in the past few weeks and doesn't expect it to have any significant impact.

He said: "I have looked at the travel and bearing in mind there are four extra teams, from my house it is three extra hours over the season, so it's not really that much difference at all.

"Now they have not got teams such a Leiston, there is a lot less travel than there used to be and what people think there is.

"It's really not a big deal. Realistically it's about the same, just it's just going north a bit more, the other way around the M25 rather than out into Kent.

"We have got a lot of boys from north of Horsham anyway, so really the travel for them is better than this year. I do not think that travel, on that basis, will mean we lose anyone from commitment levels, but you do not know what goes through players' heads."

The Hornets also announced their friendly matches earlier this month and Di Paola believes the games they have will put them in a good standing come the opening game of the season on August 10.

Their first fixture will see Horsham travel to Steyning Town on Tuesday, July 9, before we home games with Hampshire side Hartley Wintney (Saturday, July 13) and Haywards Heath Town (Tuesday, July 16).

They then hosts Crawley Town (Saturday, July 20), before trips to Eastbourne Town (Tuedsay, July 23), Bournemouth outfit Wimborne Town (Saturday, July 27), East Grinstead Town (Tuesday, July 30) and Burgess Hill Town (Saturday, August 3).

On the tests their games will pose, Di Paola commented: "We have a good mix -a League Two side, a couple of Step 3, a couple of Step 4 and some County League sides. Eastbourne Town are practically a Bostik South East team and a very good side, Steyning Town helped us out a lot with training towards the end of the season and just got promoted as well, so I am expecting them to be decent.

"I'd like to think the games we have set will give us a better starting point than what we had last season. Last year, playing Tooting & Mitcham in the final game before the start of the season was a bit of a shock in what we were going into in terms of intensity.

"That was through no fault of our own as we had friendlies arranged against higher opposition in terms of Eastbourne Borough, Merstham and Burgess Hill Town, but for one reason or another, they all pulled out.

"Dorking Wanderers was our only real test early in pre-season, so we wanted that to be different this year."