Peter Buckland revealed Horsham YMCA’s 2019/20 Premier Division campaign will be ‘a transitional season’ and that a title challenge may be unlikely.
The Gorings Mead outfit, who finished second in 2018/19, have allowed a number of key players to depart for teams playing at a higher level.
Instead Buckland will keep faith in the young guns that fired YM to a 15 match unbeaten run at the end of last season.
He said: “It’s a transitional season. No doubt about it. It’s a case, somewhat, of out with the old and in with the new.
“We will be featuring 19-year-old Jake Lindsey who has come from Hassocks. We’ve got Jack Frankland and Ash Wadhams who are both 18, and Jack Ryder who’s 19 but he’s well established now.
“This is what I’ve been stressing to Ben (Godfrey,) and Julian (Miller, YMCA assistant managers). They aren’t raw.
“I think in the last dozen games they all featured in some way or other so they’re no strangers to sitting in the first team dressing room.
“We’ve had players that have left for, quite frankly, more lucrative money. Alex Barbary has signed for Horley Town but, to be fair to Alex, he’s served us well and he’s a Horley boy.
“I think they’ve groomed him up for years into their player but he joined us. I’ve got no axe to grind with him going whatsoever.
“Jack Hartley has gone to Haywards Heath Town and Dan Mobsby has gone to East Grinstead Town. It’s at a higher level so we can’t deny them that.
“Normally we have a budget to be able to keep people but I haven’t so I made a conscious decision before the first pre-season friendly to stick with the youth.
“But for season’s expectation? Realistically and honestly I think, with the age group we’ve got, if we finish in the top six it would be an achievement.”
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YMCA were victorious in half of their four friendly games this summer. They began with a comfortable 4-0 victory at Division One new boys Roffey on July 13 before thumping Billingshurst 6-2 at Jubilee Fields on July 20.
This was followed by an entertaining 4-3 home defeat against Guildford City on July 23. Saturday saw a very young YM side fall to a chastening 7-0 loss to BetVictor South Central outfit Staines Town.
Despite a relatively successful pre-season, Buckland has stressed that he won’t ‘read too much into it’ going into Saturday’s opening game at home to Little Common.
He added: It’s frustrating sometimes because sometimes you stand there and think ‘if I went full stack I could beat this lot’ but there’s no points up for grabs.
“It’s extended training really. I don’t like too much publicity on it and I don’t read too much into it.
“I know my starters and I know the five that will be on the bench and it’s a good mixture of experience and youth. I’ve known for weeks but you’ve still got to look at players.”