Horsham manager Di Paola on preparations, last season’s squad and new signings

DM1950587a.jpg. Football: Horsham v Ashford United in the Bostik League South East Division final. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-190405-011107008
DM1950587a.jpg. Football: Horsham v Ashford United in the Bostik League South East Division final. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-190405-011107008

Horsham are hoping to keep their promotion-winning team together next season but also add some more depth and experience.

Planning and work is already well under way for next season despite the Hornets’ play-off win being less than a month ago.

The Hornets are putting the foundations in place for their first season in the Bostik League Premier Division for seven years.

They have already announced a testing pre-season schedule and thoughts have now turned to player recruitment.

Manager Dominic Di Paola has stressed he wants to keep the side that exceeded all expectations last season together.

He believes they have earned their shot at stepping up, but is looking at bringing in up to four new faces to bolster numbers. Di Paola is, however, while speaking to players in no rush to get deals done, despite lots of other local clubs making announcements already.

He said: “Everyone does things differently. Burgess Hill perhaps wanted a few announcements out there having dropped down a division and Lewes always do things early.

“We are plugging away, we have pre-season finalised, it’s a bit of the day-to-day stuff at the moment. We are speaking to players, but it’s all down to final details and you get answers when you get answers. I think as we went up we will find it very similar to when we went up from the county league; you are a bit of an unknown entity and you can be priced out.

“It’s always the same over the summer. You think you are making a bit of headway and get a setback. I cannot wait for pre-season really, this is funny season, you speak to players they indicate things, but you don’t know anything until you get the forms signed – then you know where you are.”

Horsham will return for pre-season training in the last week of June with their first friendly taking place at Steyning Town on Tuesday, July 9.

When pressed on numbers and time-spans, Di Paola continued: “We are not in any special rush to get players in. I hope the majority will commit and stay with us. I want to give them a fair crack of the whip after the work they did last season.

“I would like to give a chance to the whole group to stay together and go up together as a group.

“That’s my main aim; to give them a chance if we can. Then bring two or three in as I think we need numbers, as we were operating on 14 or 15 at the end of the season. At the beginning we were 17 or 18 and we have got to get up to that number again for the early weeks.

“I am looking to add one or two to the group as cover and then potentially one or two that are experienced at that level that can add to what we have got.

“We have a good nucleus and we aren’t looking to bring in hundreds. A couple of young players have asked if they can come down to pre-season. Dean Lovegrove did that last year and ended up playing 18-odd games, sometimes you find one like that.”

The Horsham boss also explained that he didn’t expect to lose any players due to any perceived increased travel commitments having stepped up a division.

Having done his sums and despite their being four extra teams from the South East Division, they will face just an three hours of travel over the whole season.